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

Internal translational initiation in the mRNA from the Neurospora crassa albino-3 gene.

The "ribosome scanning model" for translational initiation predicts that eukaryotic mRNAs should, as a rule, be monocistronic. However, cases have recently been described of eukaryotic mRNAs producing more than one protein through alternative translational initiation at several different AUG codons. The present work reports the occurrence of multiple translational start sites on the mRNA of the Neurospora crassa gene albino-3 (al-3), encoding the carotenoid biosynthetic enzyme geranylgeranyl-pyrophosphate synthase. This was revealed by the molecular analysis of an al-3 mutant carrying a deletion within the coding sequence, which was expected to prevent the synthesis of a functional geranylgeranyl-pyrophosphate synthase because of ribosome frameshifting and premature translational termination. However, the mutants could maintain appreciable geranylgeranyl-pyrophosphate synthase activity through a mechanism operating at the translational level, whereby a fraction of ribosomes initiated protein synthesis from either of two internal in-frame AUG codons located downstream of the deletion, thus producing a shortened but still active version of the geranylgeranyl-pyrophosphate synthase. The results presented indicate that the internal AUG codons are recognized mainly or solely by direct ribosome binding rather than by "leaky scanning" from the 5' end of the mRNA.[1]


  1. Internal translational initiation in the mRNA from the Neurospora crassa albino-3 gene. Vittorioso, P., Carattoli, A., Londei, P., Macino, G. J. Biol. Chem. (1994) [Pubmed]
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