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Oncogene. 1999 Oct 7;18(41):5631-7.

Role of two upstream open reading frames in the translational control of oncogene mdm2.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, WA 98195-7350, USA.


Overexpression of oncoprotein MDM2 has been found in a significant number of human soft tissue tumors. In a subset of these tumors, overexpression is a result of enhanced translation of mdm2 mRNA. There are two transcripts from the mdm2 gene that differ only in their 5' leaders: a long form (L-mdm2) and a short form (S-mdm2) that arise from the use of different promoters. L-mdm2 mRNA contains two upstream open reading frames (uORFs) and this mRNA was loaded with ribosomes inefficiently in comparison with S-mdm2. The 5' leader of L-mdm2 was sufficient to transfer translational repression to a reporter gene and the two uORFs acted synergistically to achieve full suppression. In contrast, the 5' leader of S-mdm2 allowed efficient translation of an attached reporter gene in the tumor cells. These results are consistent with a model in which overexpression of MDM2 in certain tumors results from a change in mRNA structure due to a switch in promoter usage.

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