Translational potentiation of messenger RNA with secondary structure in Xenopus

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Science  15 Feb 1991:
Vol. 251, Issue 4995, pp. 807-810
DOI: 10.1126/science.1990443


Differential translation of messenger RNA (mRNA) with stable secondary structure in the 5' untranslated leader may contribute to the dramatic changes in protein synthetic patterns that occur during oogenesis and early development. Plasmids that contained the bacterial gene chloramphenicol acetyltransferase and which encoded mRNA with (hpCAT) or without (CAT) a stable hairpin secondary structure in the 5' noncoding region were transcribed in vitro, and the resulting mRNAs were injected into Xenopus oocytes, eggs, and early embryos. During early oogenesis, hpCAT mRNA was translated at less than 3 percent of the efficiency of CAT mRNA. The relative translational potential of hpCAT reached 100 percent in the newly fertilized egg and returned to approximately 3 percent after the midblastula transition.

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