Picornavirus IRES elements: RNA structure and host protein interactions

Virus Res. 2015 Aug 3;206:62-73. doi: 10.1016/j.virusres.2015.01.012. Epub 2015 Jan 21.


Internal ribosome entry site (IRES) elements were discovered in picornaviruses. These elements are cis-acting RNA sequences that adopt diverse three-dimensional structures and recruit the translation machinery using a 5' end-independent mechanism assisted by a subset of translation initiation factors and various RNA binding proteins termed IRES transacting factors (ITAFs). Many of these factors suffer important modifications during infection including cleavage by picornavirus proteases, changes in the phosphorylation level and/or redistribution of the protein from the nuclear to the cytoplasm compartment. Picornavirus IRES are amongst the most potent elements described so far. However, given their large diversity and complexity, the mechanistic basis of its mode of action is not yet fully understood. This review is focused to describe recent advances on the studies of RNA structure and RNA-protein interactions modulating picornavirus IRES activity.

Keywords: Host factors; IRES elements; RNA structure; RNA–protein interactions; Translation control; Untranslated regions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Internal Ribosome Entry Sites*
  • Models, Biological
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Picornaviridae / genetics
  • Picornaviridae / physiology*
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • RNA Folding
  • RNA, Viral / chemistry
  • RNA, Viral / genetics*
  • RNA, Viral / metabolism
  • Ribosomes / metabolism*
  • Viruses


  • Internal Ribosome Entry Sites
  • Proteins
  • RNA, Viral