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Gene. 2003 Jul 17;312:17-25.

Regulation of gene expression by stop codon recoding: selenocysteine.

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  • Department of Molecular Genetics, Microbiology and Immunology, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, 675 Hoes Ln Rm 728, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA. paul.copeland@umdnj.edu


The regulation of gene expression at the translational level not only allows for rapid changes in specific protein levels but also provides an opportunity to alter codon specificity. For the incorporation of selenocysteine (Sec) into protein, the UGA codon is transformed from one that signals translation termination to one specific for Sec. This review provides a look at Sec incorporation from the perspective of the individual steps involved in protein synthesis: initiation, elongation and termination. The roles of the factors known to be required for Sec incorporation are considered in the context of each step in translation including structural modeling of the differences between the standard elongation factor eEF1A and the Sec-specific counterpart, eEFSec.

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