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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1973 Sep;70(9):2605-9.

Discriminatory ribosome rebinding of isolated regions of protein synthesis initiation from the ribonucleic acid of bacteriophage R17.


To determine whether bacterial ribosomes recognize a distinguishing feature in the immediate vicinity of actual initiator codons or are directed to these sites through involvement of other portion(s) of the mRNA molecule, the interaction between ribosomes and defined (32)P-labeled initiator fragments from R17 RNA was studied. When incubated with mixtures of the three sites, ribosomes from Bacillus stearothermophilus (which initiate only the A protein on intact phage RNA) are able to select out the A fragment and discriminate against the coat and replicase initiator regions. By contrast, Escherichia coli ribosomes do not rebind that coat-protein region of R17 most efficiently, as they in the native RNA, but likewise prefer the A-protein initiator fragment. In both cases, ribosome binding of the isolated A site is comparable by several criteria to normal polypeptide-chain initiation on an intact R17 messenger RNA in vitro. E. coli ribosomal preference for the A site is confirmed in experiments with randomly fragmented R17 RNA, by both the initiation dipeptide and ribosome protection assay. Thus the A-protein ribosome-binding site of R17 RNA appears intrinsically to be a good initiator, while efficient recognition of the coat and replicase regions requires the participation of some portion of the remainder of the phage RNA molecule.

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