The dicistrovirus intergenic region internal ribosome entry site (IRES) adopts a triple-pseudoknotted RNA structure and occupies the core ribosomal E, P, and A sites to directly recruit the ribosome and initiate translation at a non-AUG codon. A subset of dicistrovirus IRESs directs translation in the 0 and +1 frames to produce the viral structural proteins and a +1 overlapping open reading frame called ORFx, respectively. Here we show that specific mutations of two unpaired adenosines located at the core of the threehelical junction of the honey bee dicistrovirus Israeli acute paralysis virus (IAPV) IRES PKI domain can uncouple 0 and +1 frame translation, suggesting that the structure adopts distinct conformations that contribute to 0 or +1 frame translation. Using a reconstituted translation system, we show that ribosomes assembled on mutant IRESs that direct exclusive 0 or +1 frame translation lack reading frame fidelity. Finally, a nuclear magnetic resonance/small-angle X-ray scattering hybrid approach reveals that the PKI domain of the IAPV IRES adopts an RNA structure that resembles a complete tRNA. The tRNA shape-mimicry enables the viral IRES to gain access to the ribosome tRNA-binding sites and form intermolecular contacts with the ribosome that are necessary for initiating IRES translation in a specific reading frame.
Au, Hilda H et al. “Global shape mimicry of tRNA within a viral internal ribosome entry site mediates translational reading frame selection.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America vol. 112,47 (2015): E6446-55. doi:10.1073/pnas.1512088112