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J Mol Biol. 2012 Apr 13;417(5):425-39. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2012.02.008. Epub 2012 Feb 9.

Protein synthesis factors (RF1, RF2, RF3, RRF, and tmRNA) and peptidyl-tRNA hydrolase rescue stalled ribosomes at sense codons.

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Departamento de Genética y Biología Molecular, Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico Nacional, P.O. Box 14-740, Mexico City, 07000, Mexico.


During translation, ribosomes stall on mRNA when the aminoacyl-tRNA to be read is not readily available. The stalled ribosomes are deleterious to the cell and should be rescued to maintain its viability. To investigate the contribution of some of the cellular translation factors on ribosome rescuing, we provoked stalling at AGA codons in mutants that affected the factors and then analyzed the accumulation of oligopeptidyl (peptides of up to 6 amino acid residues, oligopep-)-tRNA or polypeptidyl (peptides of more than 300 amino acids in length, polypep-)-tRNA associated with ribosomes. Stalling was achieved by starvation for aminoacyl-tRNA(Arg4) upon induced expression of engineered lacZ (β-galactosidase) reporter gene harboring contiguous AGA codons close to the initiation codon or at internal codon positions together with minigene ATGAGATAA accompanied by reduced peptidyl-tRNA hydrolase (Pth). Our results showed accumulations of peptidyl-tRNA associated with ribosomes in mutants for release factors (RF1, RF2, and RF3), ribosome recycling factor (RRF), Pth, and transfer-messenger RNA (tmRNA), implying that each of these factors cooperate in rescuing stalled ribosomes. The role of these factors in ribosome releasing from the stalled complex may vary depending on the length of the peptide in the peptidyl-tRNA. RF3 and RRF rescue stalled ribosomes by "drop-off" of peptidyl-tRNA, while RF1, RF2 (in the absence of termination codon), or Pth may rescue by hydrolyzing the associated peptidyl-tRNA. This is followed by the disassembly of the ribosomal complex of tRNA and mRNA by RRF and elongation factor G.

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