Solution Structure of the HIV-1 Intron Splicing Silencer and Its Interactions with the UP1 Domain of Heterogeneous Nuclear Ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP) A1.J Biol Chem. 2016 Jan 29; 291(5):2331-44.JB
Splicing patterns in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) are maintained through cis regulatory elements that recruit antagonistic host RNA-binding proteins. The activity of the 3' acceptor site A7 is tightly regulated through a complex network of an intronic splicing silencer (ISS), a bipartite exonic splicing silencer (ESS3a/b), and an exonic splicing enhancer (ESE3). Because HIV-1 splicing depends on protein-RNA interactions, it is important to know the tertiary structures surrounding the splice sites. Herein, we present the NMR solution structure of the phylogenetically conserved ISS stem loop. ISS adopts a stable structure consisting of conserved UG wobble pairs, a folded 2X2 (GU/UA) internal loop, a UU bulge, and a flexible AGUGA apical loop. Calorimetric and biochemical titrations indicate that the UP1 domain of heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A1 binds the ISS apical loop site-specifically and with nanomolar affinity. Collectively, this work provides additional insights into how HIV-1 uses a conserved RNA structure to commandeer a host RNA-binding protein.