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J Biol Chem. 2000 Sep 1;275(35):26710-9.

Evolutionarily conserved features of the arginine attenuator peptide provide the necessary requirements for its function in translational regulation.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Oregon Graduate Institute of Science & Technology, Beaverton, Oregon 97006-8921, USA.


Neurospora crassa arg-2 mRNA contains an evolutionarily conserved upstream open reading frame (uORF) encoding the Arg attenuator peptide (AAP) that confers negative translational regulation in response to Arg. We examined the regulatory role of the AAP and the RNA encoding it using an N. crassa cell-free translation system. AAPs encoded by uORFs in four fungal mRNAs each conferred negative regulation in response to Arg by causing ribosome stalling at the uORF termination codon. Deleting the AAP non-conserved N terminus did not impair regulation, but deletions extending into the conserved region eliminated it. Introducing many silent mutations into a functional AAP coding region did not eliminate regulation, but a single additional nucleotide change altering the conserved AAP sequence abolished regulation. Therefore, the conserved peptide sequence, but not the mRNA sequence, appeared responsible for regulation. AAP extension at its C terminus resulted in Arg-mediated ribosomal stalling during translational elongation within the extended region and during termination. Comparison of Arg-mediated stalling at a rare or common codon revealed more stalling at the rare codon. These data indicate that the highly evolutionarily conserved peptide core functions within the ribosome to cause stalling; translational events at a potential stall site can influence the extent of stalling there.

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