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EMBO J. 1988 Nov;7(11):3547-51.

Evidence that the GCN2 protein kinase regulates reinitiation by yeast ribosomes.

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Foundation of Research and Technology, Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Crete, Greece.


The yeast gene GCN4 produces an mRNA that has a long 5' 'untranslated' region containing four small open reading frames (ORFs) preceding the protein coding frame. This configuration suppresses the rate by which GCN4 protein is synthesized. However, translational derepression of the GCN4 mRNA occurs when yeast cells are grown under conditions of amino acid limitation. Such translational derepression requires the GCN2 protein kinase and the presence of the 5' most proximal ORF. In this study we show that a functional coupling between the translation of the first ORF and the amount of the GCN2 protein is responsible for the translational derepression of the GCN4 mRNA. Our evidence suggests that this coupling involves an increase in the ability of 40S ribosomal subunits that have translated the first frame to resume scanning and reinitiate translation at a downstream AUG independently of the base sequence in the intervening region.

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