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Genome Res. 2005 Oct;15(10):1411-20.

Identification of programmed translational -1 frameshifting sites in the genome of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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Institut de Génétique et Microbiologie CNRS UMR 8621, Université Paris-Sud, 91405 Orsay Cedex, France.


Frameshifting is a recoding event that allows the expression of two polypeptides from the same mRNA molecule. Most recoding events described so far are used by viruses and transposons to express their replicase protein. The very few number of cellular proteins known to be expressed by a -1 ribosomal frameshifting has been identified by chance. The goal of the present work was to set up a systematic strategy, based on complementary bioinformatics, molecular biology, and functional approaches, without a priori knowledge of the mechanism involved. Two independent methods were devised. The first looks for genomic regions in which two ORFs, each carrying a protein pattern, are in a frameshifted arrangement. The second uses Hidden Markov Models and likelihood in a two-step approach. When this strategy was applied to the Saccharomyces cerevisiae genome, 189 candidate regions were found, of which 58 were further functionally investigated. Twenty-eight of them expressed a full-length mRNA covering the two ORFs, and 11 showed a -1 frameshift efficiency varying from 5% to 13% (50-fold higher than background), some of which corresponds to genes with known functions. From other ascomycetes, four frameshifted ORFs are found fully conserved. Strikingly, most of the candidates do not display a classical viral-like frameshift signal and would have escaped a search based on current models of frameshifting. These results strongly suggest that -1 frameshifting might be more widely distributed than previously thought.

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