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Mol Biotechnol. 2008 Jul;39(3):207-13. doi: 10.1007/s12033-008-9036-9. Epub 2008 Jan 31.

Analysis of context sequence surrounding translation initiation site from complete genome of model plants.

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Department of Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, North Guwahati, Assam 781 039, India.


Regions flanking the translation initiation site (TIS) are thought to play a crucial role in translation efficiency of mRNAs, but their exact sequence and evolution in eukaryotes are still a matter of debate. We investigated the context sequences in 20 nucleotides around the TIS in multi-cellular eukaryotes, with a focus on two model plants and a comparison to human. We identified consensus sequences aaaaaaa(A/G)(A/C)aAUGGcgaataata and ggcggc(g/c)(A/G)(A/C)(G/C)AUGGCggcggcgg for Arabidopsis thaliana and Oryza sativa, respectively. We observe strongly conserved G at position +4 and A or C at position -2; however, the exact nucleotide frequencies vary between the three organisms even at these conserved positions. The frequency of pyrimidines, which are considered sub optimum at position -3, is higher in both plants than in human. Arabidopsis is GC-depleted (AU-enriched) compared to both rice and human, and the enrichment is slightly stronger upstream than downstream of AUG. While both plants are similar though not identical in their variation of nucleotide frequencies, rice and human are more similar to each other than Arabidopsis and human. All three organisms display clear periodicity in A + G and C + U content when analyzing normalized frequencies. These findings suggest that, besides few highly conserved positions, overall structure of the context sequence plays a larger role in TIS recognition than the actual nucleotide frequencies.

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