Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science


Microbiology and Immunology


Eric Joseph Arts


It was previously thought that the RNA structural elements within the 5’UTR were the sole determinants of RNA packaging in HIV-1. However, in 2013 Chamanian et al. discovered that the region overlapping the Ribosomal Frameshift Signal (RFS) acted to enhance RNA packaging 50 fold and was thus named the genomic RNA packaging enhancer element (GRPE). To determine if the GRPE was conserved across lentiviruses, using the same approach as Chamanian et al., deletions in similar regions of the SIVmac239 and FIV 34TF10 genomes were done to measure their impact on RNA packaging. No region across the gag-pol ORF of SIVmac239 had any impact on RNA packaging, and the deletion of the RFS in FIV 34TF10 had no impact either, although the RRE was disposable in the SIVmac239 system but necessary in FIV34TF10. This study shows that the GRPE is likely specific to HIV-1.