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Mol Cell Biol. 1991 May;11(5):2382-90.

MOD5 translation initiation sites determine N6-isopentenyladenosine modification of mitochondrial and cytoplasmic tRNA.

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Department of Biological Chemistry, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Pennsylvania State University, Hershey 17033.


MOD5 is one of several genes that code for enzymes found in mitochondria and another cellular compartment. Like other such genes, it contains two in-frame ATGs that could be used to produce two proteins, differing from each other by an amino-terminal extension. Certain other genes produce heterogeneous mRNAs with some 5' ends falling upstream of the longest open reading frame and some 5' ends falling between the first and second ATGs. In these cases, selection of transcription start sites appears to play a significant role in translation start site selection. MOD5, in contrast, produces mRNAs with 5' ends that all fall upstream of both ATGs. To determine how MOD5 encodes isozymes that are located in different cellular compartments and to determine whether they differ in structure, we constructed MOD5 and MOD5-COXIV fusions with mutations of the first, second, or both ATGs. The effect of these alterations on protein production, tRNA modification, and cellular location was assessed. Both the first and second ATGs are used to produce MOD5 protein in vivo, but only the long form of the protein is imported into mitochondria. Thus, the first 11 amino acids present on the amino-terminal extended protein are necessary for mitochondrial import. Surprisingly, this extension does not promote complete import of the long form of the protein, but rather a functional pool of the extended protein remains in the cytoplasm. The amino-terminal extension is also unusual because it is probably not proteolytically removed upon import and therefore does not constitute part of a mitochondrial presequence.

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