Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Nucleic Acids Res. 2005 Mar 8;33(5):1474-86. Print 2005.

Translation of the F protein of hepatitis C virus is initiated at a non-AUG codon in a +1 reading frame relative to the polyprotein.

Author information

Département de Biochimie, Université de Montréal 2900 Blvd Edouard-Monpetit, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3T 1J4.


The hepatitis C virus (HCV) genome contains an internal ribosome entry site (IRES) followed by a large open reading frame coding for a polyprotein that is cleaved into 10 proteins. An additional HCV protein, the F protein, was recently suggested to result from a +1 frameshift by a minority of ribosomes that initiated translation at the HCV AUG initiator codon of the polyprotein. In the present study, we reassessed the mechanism accounting for the synthesis of the F protein by measuring the expression in cultured cells of a luciferase reporter gene with an insertion encompassing the IRES plus the beginning of the HCV-coding region preceding the luciferase-coding sequence. The insertion was such that luciferase expression was either in the +1 reading frame relative to the HCV AUG initiator codon, mimicking the expression of the F protein, or in-frame with this AUG, mimicking the expression of the polyprotein. Introduction of a stop codon at various positions in-frame with the AUG initiator codon and substitution of this AUG with UAC inhibited luciferase expression in the 0 reading frame but not in the +1 reading frame, ruling out that the synthesis of the F protein results from a +1 frameshift. Introduction of a stop codon at various positions in the +1 reading frame identified the codon overlapping codon 26 of the polyprotein in the +1 reading frame as the translation start site for the F protein. This codon 26(+1) is either GUG or GCG in the viral variants. Expression of the F protein strongly increased when codon 26(+1) was replaced with AUG, or when its context was mutated into an optimal Kozak context, but was severely decreased in the presence of low concentrations of edeine. These observations are consistent with a Met-tRNA(i)-dependent initiation of translation at a non-AUG codon for the synthesis of the F protein.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Silverchair Information Systems Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center