The terminal RNA regions of the genomic and antigenomic RNAs of the paramyxoviruses and rhabdoviruses are known to contain sequences essential for directing RNA replication and transcription. The 3' terminus (leader region) of the negative-sense, genomic RNA of the rhabdoviruses and paramyxoviruses is known as the leader (Le) promoter and directs synthesis of positive-sense replication and transcription products. The 3' terminus of the antigenome is termed the trailer complementary (TrC) promoter and directs the synthesis of genomic RNA. By creating mutations in the corresponding regions of an HPIV3 minireplicon in which the viral protein coding sequences were replaced by the luciferase gene, we were able to precisely define the elements of the leader promoter involved in directing positive-strand replication of HPIV3. Nucleotides 1 through 12 (from the terminus) formed a domain critical for replication. The region from nucleotides 13 through 55 was important but not crucial for replication, while G residues at positions 79, 85, and 91 comprised another domain critical for replication. It was also shown that the TrC promoter is similar, though not identical, to the Le promoter. Nucleotides 1 through 12 of the TrC promoter were critical for synthesis of genomic RNA, though specific positions behaved differently from the corresponding positions of the Le promoter. While many of these mutations could not be analyzed for transcription because they completely abrogated genomic RNA synthesis (the template for transcription), we were surprised to find that no mutations in the leader promoter which decreased replication had any significant effect on transcription. However, mutations in the intergenic sequence and gene start signal following the leader and preceding the luciferase message severely decreased transcription, but not replication.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.