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Nucleic Acids Res. 2014 Jan;42(1):485-98. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkt864. Epub 2013 Sep 30.

The immediate upstream region of the 5'-UTR from the AUG start codon has a pronounced effect on the translational efficiency in Arabidopsis thaliana.

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Department of Life Sciences, School of Bioscience and Bioengineering and Division of Integrative Biosciences and Biotechnology, Pohang University of Science and Technology, Pohang 790-784, Korea.


The nucleotide sequence around the translational initiation site is an important cis-acting element for post-transcriptional regulation. However, it has not been fully understood how the sequence context at the 5'-untranslated region (5'-UTR) affects the translational efficiency of individual mRNAs. In this study, we provide evidence that the 5'-UTRs of Arabidopsis genes showing a great difference in the nucleotide sequence vary greatly in translational efficiency with more than a 200-fold difference. Of the four types of nucleotides, the A residue was the most favourable nucleotide from positions -1 to -21 of the 5'-UTRs in Arabidopsis genes. In particular, the A residue in the 5'-UTR from positions -1 to -5 was required for a high-level translational efficiency. In contrast, the T residue in the 5'-UTR from positions -1 to -5 was the least favourable nucleotide in translational efficiency. Furthermore, the effect of the sequence context in the -1 to -21 region of the 5'-UTR was conserved in different plant species. Based on these observations, we propose that the sequence context immediately upstream of the AUG initiation codon plays a crucial role in determining the translational efficiency of plant genes.

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