A kissing complex together with a stable dimer is involved in the HIV-1(Lai) RNA dimerization process in vitro
Retroviruses contain a dimeric RNA consisting of two identical molecules of genomic RNA. The interaction between the two monomers is thought to occur near their 5’ ends. We previously identified a region upstream from the splice donor site, comprising an autocomplementary sequence, responsible for the formation of dimeric HIV-1(Lai) RNA [Muriaux, D., Girard, P.-M., Bonnet-Mathoniere, B., & Paoletti, J. (1995) J. Biol. Chem. 270, 8209-8216]. This region appeared to be confined within a putative stem-loop structure. Here we report an in vitro model of the HIV-1 RNA dimerization process involving a two-step mechanism. We used RNA 77-402, a transcript of the HTV-1(Lai) region, which is able to dimerize spontaneously in vitro under conditions of low ionic strength.