RNA Translation

Yeast's translational hopscotch

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Science  23 May 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6186, pp. 869
DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6186.869-d

Ribosomes translate mRNA into proteins sequentially, one codon at a time—except when they don't. Lang et al. now report that many of the mitochondrial genes in the yeast Magnusiomyces capitatus are infested with short sequence inserts that should kill the translation of the coded protein and, in theory, the yeast as well, but don't. Why not? The M. capitatus protein-synthesizing machinery was able to ignore the inserts and make functional proteins. The protein-synthesizing ribosomes recognized a special element in the mRNA that warned of the inserts. The ribosome then “hopped” from the upstream codon to an identical or very similar codon downstream, clean over the insert, leaving the insert out of the protein it made.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 111, 5926 (2014).

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