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The RNA structure and long-range interactions of the SL9266 cis-acting replication element located within the NS5B coding region of hepatitis C virus (HCV) were determined using selective 2'-hydroxyl acylation analysed by primer extension. Marked differences were found in the long-range interactions of SL9266 when the two widely used genotype 2a JFH-1 (HCVcc) and genotype 1b Con1b sub-genomic replicon systems were compared. In both genomes, there was evidence for interaction of the sub-terminal bulge loop of SL9266 and sequences around nucleotide 9110, though the replication phenotype of genomes bearing mutations that disrupted this interaction was fundamentally different. In contrast, a 'kissing loop' interaction between the terminal loop of SL9266 and sequences in the 3'-untranslated X-tail was only detectable in JFH-1-based genomes. In the latter, where both long-range interactions are present, they were independent, implying that SL9266 forms the core of an extended pseudoknot. The presence of the 'kissing loop' interaction inhibited the formation of SL9571 in the 3'-X-tail, an RNA structure implicated in genome replication. We propose that, SL9266 may contribute a switch function that modulates the mutually incompatible translation and replication events that must occur for replication of the positive-strand RNA genome of HCV.

Original publication




Journal article


Nucleic Acids Res

Publication Date





6908 - 6921


Cell Line, Tumor, Hepacivirus, Humans, Mutation, Nucleic Acid Conformation, Phenotype, RNA, Viral, Virus Replication