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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1991 Nov 1;88(21):9789-93.

mRNA leader length and initiation codon context determine alternative AUG selection for the yeast gene MOD5.

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


MOD5, a nuclear gene of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, encodes two isozymic forms of a tRNA-modification enzyme. These enzymes modify both cytoplasmic and mitochondrial tRNAs. Two inframe ATGs of the MOD5 gene are used for initiation of translation, and the form of the protein translated from the first AUG is imported into mitochondria. Protein translated from the second AUG functions in the cytoplasm. Since all transcripts contain both of these translational start sites and two proteins are made, the question arises as to the factors that influence the translation start-site choice. Extending the 5' ends of the MOD5 mRNA to include leader sequences of the ADH1 (alcohol dehydrogenase defective) transcript produces significant changes in the choice of AUGs. This suggests that for wild-type MOD5 transcripts, the length or structure of the leader sequence plays a role in AUG choice. The nucleotides surrounding the first ATG of MOD5 also have an effect on translation initiation. Altering these nucleotides changes initiation choice and suggests that ribosomal bypass of a suboptimal AUG is another mechanism controlling the alternate use of two initiation codons. Our data support the model that at least one MOD5 transcript is able to produce two proteins with different N-terminal sequences.

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