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J Mol Biol. 1991 Mar 5;218(1):83-97.

Influence of mRNA determinants on translation initiation in Escherichia coli.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, 80309-0347.


We have studied the classic initiation elements of mRNA sequence and structure to better understand their influence on translation initiation rates in Escherichia coli. Changes introduced in the initiation codon, the Shine and Dalgarno sequence, the spacing between those two elements, and in the secondary structures within initiation domains each change the rate of 30 S ternary complex formation. We measured these differences using extension inhibition analysis, a technique we have called "toeprinting". The rate of 30 S initiation complex formation in the absence of initiation factors agrees well with in vivo translation rates in some instances, although in others a regulatory role of initiation factors in 30 S complex formation is likely. Nucleotides 5' to the Shine and Dalgarno domain facilitate ternary complex formation.

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