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C R Biol. 2005 Jul;328(7):589-605.

Translation initiation by factor-independent binding of eukaryotic ribosomes to internal ribosomal entry sites.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, State University of New York, SUNY, 450 Clarkson Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11203, USA.


Two exceptional mechanisms of eukaryotic translation initiation have recently been identified that differ fundamentally from the canonical factor-mediated, end-dependent mechanism of ribosomal attachment to mRNA. Instead, ribosomal 40S subunits bind in a factor-independent manner to the internal ribosomal entry site (IRES) in an mRNA. These two mechanisms are exemplified by initiation on the unrelated approximately 300 nt.-long Hepatitis C virus (HCV) IRES and the approximately 200 nt.-long cricket paralysis virus (CrPV) intergenic region (IGR) IRES, respectively. Ribosomal binding involves interaction with multiple non-contiguous sites on these IRESs, and therefore also differs from the factor-independent attachment of prokaryotic ribosomes to mRNA, which involves base-pairing to the linear Shine-Dalgarno sequence. The HCV IRES binds to the solvent side of the 40S subunit, docks a domain of the IRES into the ribosomal exit (E) site and places the initiation codon in the ribosomal peptidyl (P) site. Subsequent binding of eIF3 and the eIF2-GTP/initiator tRNA complex to form a 48S complex is followed by subunit joining to form an 80S ribosome. The CrPV IRES binds to ribosomes in a very different manner, by occupying the ribosomal E and P sites in the intersubunit cavity, thereby excluding initiator tRNA. Ribosomes enter the elongation stage of translation directly, without any involvement of initiator tRNA or initiation factors, following recruitment of aminoacyl-tRNA to the ribosomal aminoacyl (A) site and translocation of it to the P site.

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