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Annu Rev Microbiol. 2008;62:133-51. doi: 10.1146/annurev.micro.62.081307.162948.

Biology of trans-translation.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA.


The trans-translation mechanism is a key component of multiple quality control pathways in bacteria that ensure proteins are synthesized with high fidelity in spite of challenges such as transcription errors, mRNA damage, and translational frameshifting. trans-Translation is performed by a ribonucleoprotein complex composed of tmRNA, a specialized RNA with properties of both a tRNA and an mRNA, and the small protein SmpB. tmRNA-SmpB interacts with translational complexes stalled at the 3' end of an mRNA to release the stalled ribosomes and target the nascent polypeptides and mRNAs for degradation. In addition to quality control pathways, some genetic regulatory circuits use trans-translation to control gene expression. Diverse bacteria require trans-translation when they execute large changes in their genetic programs, including responding to stress, pathogenesis, and differentiation.

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