PerspectiveCell Biology

A Translational Pause to Localize

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Science  04 Feb 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6017, pp. 543-544
DOI: 10.1126/science.1202075

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The unconventional splicing of a messenger RNA (mRNA) is key to a mechanism that controls the cellular response to unfolded proteins that accumulate in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Mammalian cells attempt to counterbalance this state of stress by expressing specific genes through the transcription factor XBP1 (1). The synthesis of this transcription factor requires splicing to generate its encoding mRNA, a process that occurs at the cytoplasmic face of the ER membrane. On page 586 of this issue (2), Yanagitani et al. reveal how translational pausing of the mRNA to be spliced contributes to this localization. The finding reveals surprising similarities in mechanisms regulating translation in eukaryotes and prokaryotes.