Yang J, Bogerd HP, Le S, Cullen BR. The human endogenous retrovirus K Rev response element coincides with a predicted RNA folding region. RNA. 2000 Nov;6:1551-64.

Human endogenous retrovirus K (HERV-K) is the name given to an approximately 30-million-year-old family of endogenous retroviruses present at greater than 50 copies per haploid human genome. Previously, the HERV-K were shown to encode a nuclear RNA export factor, termed K-Rev, that is the functional equivalent of the H-Rev protein encoded by human immunodeficiency virus type 1. HERV-K was also shown to contain a cis-acting target element, the HERV-K Rev response element (K-RRE), that allowed the nuclear export of linked RNA transcripts in the presence of either K-Rev or H-Rev. Here, we demonstrate that the functionally defined K-RRE coincides with a statistically highly significant unusual RNA folding region and present a potential RNA secondary structure for the approximately 416-nt K-RRE. Both in vitro and in vivo assays of sequence specific RNA binding were used to map two primary binding sites for K-Rev, and one primary binding site for H-Rev, within the K-RRE. Of note, all three binding sites map to discrete predicted RNA stem-loop subdomains within the larger K-RRE structure. Although almost the entire 416-nt K-RRE was required for the activation of nuclear RNA export in cells expressing K-Rev, mutational inactivation of the binding sites for K-Rev resulted in the selective loss of the K-RRE response to K-Rev but not to H-Rev. Together, these data strongly suggest that the K-RRE, like the H-RRE, coincides with an extensive RNA secondary structure and identify specific sites within the K-RRE that can recruit either K-Rev or H-Rev to HERV-K RNA transcripts.

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