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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

An intercistronic region and ribosome-binding site in bacterial messenger RNA.

A messenger RNA fragment about 220 nucleotides long has been isolated from 32-P-labeled tryptophan operon mRNA of Escherichia coli. When point mutations at the end of trpB and the beginning of trpA were introduced, the resulting nucleotide changes were found; hence the mRNA fragment must include the trpB-trpA intercistronic region. Most of the nucleotide sequences can be assigned to specific locations in the structural genes, based on the amino-acid sequences of the trpB and trpA proteins. In vitro, ribosomes bind to this piece of mRNA and protect from nuclease attack a region about 40 nucleotides long, containing a central AUG codon. The triplet codons to the 3' side of this AUG correspond to the first seven amino acids of the trpA protein; the codons to the 5' side correspond to the last six amino acids of the trpB protein. Translation of trpB is terminated by single UGA codon, which overlaps the trpA AUG initiation codon: UGAUG. Thus the untranslated "intercistronic" region consists of only two nucleotides. The RNA sequence spanning this region undoubtedly fulfills two functions, specifying ribosome recognition signals as well as encoding amino-acid sequences.[1]


  1. An intercistronic region and ribosome-binding site in bacterial messenger RNA. Platt, T., Yanofsky, C. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1975) [Pubmed]
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