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RNA. 2009 May;15(5):932-46. doi: 10.1261/rna.1315109. Epub 2009 Mar 19.

Translation initiation factors are not required for Dicistroviridae IRES function in vivo.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35294, USA.


The cricket paralysis virus (CrPV) intergenic region (IGR) internal ribosome entry site (IRES) uses an unusual mechanism of initiating translation, whereby the IRES occupies the P-site of the ribosome and the initiating tRNA enters the A-site. In vitro experiments have demonstrated that the CrPV IGR IRES is able to bind purified ribosomes and form 80S complexes capable of synthesizing small peptides in the absence of any translation initiation factors. These results suggest that initiation by this IRES is factor-independent. To determine whether the IGR IRES functions in the absence of initiation factors in vivo, we assayed IGR IRES activity in various yeast strains harboring mutations in canonical translation initiation factors. We used a dicistronic reporter assay in yeast to determine whether the CrPV IGR IRES is able to promote translation sufficient to support growth in the presence of various deletions or mutations in translation initiation factors. Using this assay, we have previously shown that the CrPV IGR IRES functions efficiently in yeast when ternary complexes (eIF2*GTP*initiator tRNA(met)) are reduced. Here, we demonstrate that the CrPV IGR IRES activity does not require the eukaryotic initiation factors eIF4G1 or eIF5B, and it is enhanced when eIF2B, the eIF3b subunit of eIF3, or eIF4E are impaired. Taken together, these data support a model in which the CrPV IGR IRES is capable of initiating protein synthesis in the absence of any initiation factors in vivo, and suggests that the CrPV IGR IRES initiates translation by directly recruiting the ribosomal subunits in vivo.

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