Prohead RNA: a noncoding viral RNA of novel structure and function.
Hill AC., Bartley LE., Schroeder SJ.
Prohead RNA (pRNA) is an essential component of the powerful Φ29-like bacteriophage DNA packaging motor. However, the specific role of this unique RNA in the Φ29 packaging motor remains unknown. This review examines pRNA as a noncoding RNA of novel structure and function. In order to highlight the reasons for exploring the structure and function of pRNA, we (1) provide an overview of Φ29-like bacteriophage and the Φ29 DNA packaging motor, including putative motor mechanisms and structures of its component parts; (2) discuss pRNA structure and possible roles for pRNA in the Φ29 packaging motor; (3) summarize pRNA self-assembly; and (4) describe the prospective therapeutic applications of pRNA. Many questions remain to be answered in order to connect what is currently known about pRNA structure to its novel function in the Φ29 packaging motor. The knowledge gained from studying the structure, function, and sequence variation in pRNA will help develop tools to better navigate the conformational landscapes of RNA. WIREs RNA 2016, 7:428-437. doi: 10.1002/wrna.1330 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.