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PLoS One. 2009;4(2):e4484. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004484. Epub 2009 Feb 13.

Regulation of translation in haloarchaea: 5'- and 3'-UTRs are essential and have to functionally interact in vivo.

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  • 1Goethe-University, Institute for Molecular Biosciences, Frankfurt, Germany.


Recently a first genome-wide analysis of translational regulation using prokaryotic species had been performed which revealed that regulation of translational efficiency plays an important role in haloarchaea. In fact, the fractions of genes under differential growth phase-dependent translational control in the two species Halobacterium salinarum and Haloferax volcanii were as high as in eukaryotes. However, nothing is known about the mechanisms of translational regulation in archaea. Therefore, two genes exhibiting opposing directions of regulation were selected to unravel the importance of untranslated regions (UTRs) for differential translational control in vivo.Differential translational regulation in exponentially growing versus stationary phase cells was studied by comparing translational efficiencies using a reporter gene system. Translational regulation was not observed when 5'-UTRs or 3'-UTRs alone were fused to the reporter gene. However, their simultaneous presence was sufficient to transfer differential translational control from the native transcript to the reporter transcript. This was true for both directions of translational control. Translational regulation was completely abolished when stem loops in the 5'-UTR were changed by mutagenesis. An "UTR-swap" experiment demonstrated that the direction of translational regulation is encoded in the 3'-UTR, not in the 5'-UTR. While much is known about 5'-UTR-dependent translational control in bacteria, the reported findings provide the first examples that both 5'- and 3'-UTRs are essential and sufficient to drive differential translational regulation in a prokaryote and therefore have to functionally interact in vivo. The current results indicate that 3'-UTR-dependent translational control had already evolved before capping and polyadenylation of transcripts were invented, which are essential for circularization of transcripts in eukaryotes.

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