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Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2006 Jun;16(3):299-306. Epub 2006 May 16.

Structures of regulatory elements in mRNAs.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Colorado at Boulder, Campus Box 215, Boulder, Colorado 80309, USA.


Messenger RNAs often contain structures in their 5'-untranslated region that serve to regulate or promote expression of their gene product. Recent structural studies have revealed that riboswitches, which bind a variety of small molecule metabolites, including purine bases, S-adenosylmethionine, amino acids and cofactors, can contain sophisticated tertiary architecture that enables their function, akin to tRNA and rRNA. These structures guide the mRNA to adopt one of two mutually exclusive forms, dictating the outcome of transcription or translation. Another highly structured mRNA element, the viral internal ribosomal entry site, is able to manipulate the ribosome and replace the function of initiation factors to promote gene expression.

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