Characterization of the termination-reinitiation strategy employed in the expression of influenza B virus BM2 protein

RNA. 2008 Nov;14(11):2394-406. doi: 10.1261/rna.1231008. Epub 2008 Sep 29.


Coupled expression of the M1 and BM2 open-reading frames (ORFs) of influenza B from the dicistronic segment 7 mRNA occurs by a process of termination-dependent reinitiation. The AUG start codon of the BM2 ORF overlaps the stop codon of the upstream M1 ORF in the pentanucleotide UAAUG, and BM2 synthesis is dependent upon translation of the M1 ORF and termination at the stop codon. Here, we have investigated the mRNA sequence requirements for BM2 expression. Termination-reinitiation is dependent upon 45 nucleotide (nt) of RNA immediately upstream of the UAAUG pentanucleotide, which includes an essential stretch complementary to 18S rRNA helix 26. Thus, similar to the caliciviruses, base-pairing between mRNA and rRNA is likely to play a role in tethering the 40S subunit to the mRNA following termination at the M1 stop codon. Consistent with this, repositioning of the M1 stop codon more than 24 nt downstream from the BM2 start codon inhibited BM2 expression. RNA structure probing revealed that the RNA upstream of the UAAUG overlap is not highly structured, but upon encountering the M1 stop codon by the ribosome, a stem-loop may form immediately 5' of the ribosome, with the 18S rRNA complementary region in the apical loop and in close proximity to helix 26. Mutational analysis reveals that the normal requirements for start site selection in BM2 expression are suspended, with little effect of initiation codon context and efficient use of noncanonical initiation codons. This suggests that the full complement of initiation factors is not required for the reinitiation process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Base Sequence
  • Codon, Initiator / genetics
  • Codon, Initiator / metabolism
  • Codon, Terminator / genetics
  • Codon, Terminator / metabolism
  • Influenza B virus / genetics
  • Influenza B virus / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Peptide Chain Initiation, Translational* / genetics
  • Peptide Chain Termination, Translational* / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / chemistry
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S / chemistry
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S / metabolism
  • RNA, Viral / chemistry
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • RNA, Viral / metabolism
  • Viral Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Viral Proteins / genetics


  • BM2 polypeptide, influenza B virus
  • Codon, Initiator
  • Codon, Terminator
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S
  • RNA, Viral
  • Viral Proteins