Retrovirus-specific packaging of aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases with cognate primer tRNAs

Shan Cen, Hassan Javanbakht, Sunghoon Kim, Kiyotaka Shiba, Rebecca Craven, Alan Rein, Karla Ewalt, Paul Schimmel, Karin Musier-Forsyth, Lawrence Kleiman

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70 Citations (Scopus)


The tRNAs used to prime reverse transcription in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), Rous sarcoma virus (RSV), and Moloney murine leukemia virus (Mo-MuLV) are tRNA3Lys, tRNATrp, and tRNAPro, respectively. Using antibodies to the three cognate human aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases, we found that only lysyl-tRNA synthetase (LysRS) is present in HIV-1, only tryptophanyl-tRNA synthetase (TrpRS) is present in RSV, and neither these two synthetases nor prolyl-tRNA synthetase (ProRS) is present in Mo-MuLV. LysRS and TrpRS are present in HIV-1 and RSV at approximately 25 and 12 molecules/virion, respectively. These results support the hypothesis that, in HIV-1 and RSV, the cognate aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase may be used as the signal for targeting the selective packaging of primer tRNAs into retroviruses. The absence of ProRS in Mo-MuLV is consistent with reports that selective packaging of tRNAPro in this virus is less important for achieving optimum annealing of the primer to Mo-MuLV genomic RNA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13111-13115
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 2002 Dec

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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