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Cell. 2003 Jan 10;112(1):123-9.

Entrapping ribosomes for viral translation: tRNA mimicry as a molecular Trojan horse.

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Department of Biochemistry, Leiden Institute of Chemistry, Leiden University, P.O. Box 9502, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands.


Turnip yellow mosaic virus (TYMV) has a genomic plus-strand RNA with a 5' cap followed by overlapping and different reading frames for the movement protein and polyprotein, while the distal coat protein cistron is translated from a subgenomic RNA. The 3'-untranslated region harbors a tRNA-like structure (TLS) to which a valine moiety can be added and it is indispensable for virus viability. Here, we report about a surprising interaction between TYMV-RNA-programmed ribosomes and 3'-valylated TLS that yields polyprotein with the valine N terminally incorporated by a translation mechanism resistant to regular initiation inhibitors. Disruption of the TLS exclusively abolishes polyprotein synthesis, which can be restored by adding excess TLS in trans. Our observations imply a novel eukaryotic mechanism for internal initiation of mRNA translation.

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