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Gene. 1985;37(1-3):171-9.

Translational interference at overlapping reading frames in prokaryotic messenger RNA.


In overlapping reading frames of prokaryotic mRNA, the ribosome-binding site (RBS) of the downstream cistron is part of the coding sequence of the upstream message. We have examined whether the rate of translation in Escherichia coli can be sufficiently high to preclude the use of an RBS in initiation of protein synthesis when it is part of an actively decoded reading frame. The two sets of gene overlap present in the RNA phage MS2 are used as a model system. We find that translation of an upstream cistron can fully block initiation of protein synthesis at the overlapping RBS of the downstream cistron. Nonsense mutations in the upstream gene restore the translation of the downstream gene.

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