Ribosomal selection of mRNAs with degenerate initiation triplets

Nucleic Acids Research
He ChengguangClaudio O Gualerzi


To assess the influence of degenerate initiation triplets on mRNA recruitment by ribosomes, five mRNAs identical but for their start codon (AUG, GUG, UUG, AUU and AUA) were offered to a limiting amount of ribosomes, alone or in competition with an identical AUGmRNA bearing a mutation conferring different electrophoretic mobility to the product. Translational efficiency and competitiveness of test mRNAs toward this AUGmRNA were determined quantifying the relative amounts of the electrophoretically separated wt and mutated products synthesized in vitro and found to be influenced to different extents by the nature of their initiation triplet and by parameters such as temperature and nutrient availability in the medium. The behaviors of AUAmRNA, UUGmRNA and AUGmRNA were the same between 20 and 40°C whereas the GUG and AUUmRNAs were less active and competed poorly with the AUGmRNA, especially at low temperature. Nutrient limitation and preferential inhibition by ppGpp severely affected activity and competitiveness of all mRNAs bearing non-AUG starts, the UUGmRNA being the least affected. Overall, our data indicate that beyond these effects exclusively due to the degenerate start codons within an optimized translational initiation re...Continue Reading


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