The 210-nucleotide (nt) 5' untranslated region (UTR) in the positive-strand bovine coronavirus (BCoV) genome is predicted to contain four higher-order structures identified as stem-loops I to IV, which may function as cis-acting elements in genomic RNA replication. Here, we describe evidence that stem-loop IV, a bulged stem-loop mapping at nt 186 through 215, (i) is phylogenetically conserved among group 2 coronaviruses and may have a homolog in groups 1 and 3, (ii) exists as a higher-order structure on the basis of enzyme probing, (iii) is required as a higher-order element for replication of a BCoV defective interfering (DI) RNA in the positive but not the negative strand, and (iv) as a higher-order structure in wild-type (wt) and mutant molecules that replicate, specifically binds six cellular proteins in the molecular mass range of 25 to 58 kDa as determined by electrophoretic mobility shift and UV cross-linking assays; binding to viral proteins was not detected. Interestingly, the predicted stem-loop IV homolog in the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus appears to be group 1-like in that it is in part duplicated with a group 1-like conserved loop sequence and is not group 2-like, as would be expected by the SARS coronavirus group 2-like 3' UTR structure. These results together indicate that stem-loop IV in the BCoV 5' UTR is a cis-acting element for DI RNA replication and that it might function through interactions with cellular proteins. It is postulated that stem-loop IV functions similarly in the virus genome.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/david_brian/8/