The influenza virus mRNAs are structurally similar to cellular mRNAs nevertheless; the virus promotes selective translation of viral mRNAs despite the inhibition of host cell protein synthesis. The infection proceeds normally upon functional impairment of eIF4E cap-binding protein, but requires functional eIF4A helicase and eIF4G factor. Here, we have studied whether the presence of cis elements in viral mRNAs or the action of viral proteins is responsible for this eIF4E-independence. The eIF4E protein is required for viral mRNA translation in vitro, indicating that cis-acting RNA sequences are not involved in this process. We also show that PB2 viral polymerase subunit interacts with the eIF4G protein. In addition, a chimeric mRNA containing viral UTR sequences transcribed by the viral polymerase out of the infection is successfully translated independently of an impaired eIF4E factor. These data support that the viral polymerase is responsible for the eIF4E independence of influenza virus mRNA translation.
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