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Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2009;85:423-66. doi: 10.1016/S0079-6603(08)00811-8.

Killer and protective ribosomes.

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Expression Genetique Microbienne, Paris, France.


In prokaryotes, translation influences mRNA decay. The breakdown of most Escherichia coli mRNAs is initiated by RNase E, a 5'-dependent endonuclease. Some mRNAs are protected by ribosomes even if these are located far upstream of cleavage sites ("protection at a distance"), whereas others require direct shielding of these sites. I argue that these situations reflect different modes of interaction of RNase E with mRNAs. Protection at a distance is most impressive in Bacilli, where ribosomes can protect kilobases of unstable downstream sequences. I propose that this protection reflects the role in mRNA decay of RNase J1, a 5'-->3' exonuclease with no E. coli equivalent. Finally, recent years have shown that besides their protective role, ribosomes can also cleave their mRNA under circumstances that cause ribosome stalling. The endonuclease associated with this "killing" activity, which has a eukaryotic counterpart ("no-go decay"), is not characterized; it may be borne by the distressed ribosome itself.

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