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Trends Biochem Sci. 1996 Jun;21(6):203-8.

Knowing when not to stop: selenocysteine incorporation in eukaryotes.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The regulation of translation frequently involves protein-RNA interactions. An intriguing example of this is the alternative decoding of UGA, typically a stop codon, as selenocysteine. Two RNA structures, the mRNA selenocysteine insertion sequence (SECIS element) and a unique selenocysteyl-tRNA, are required for this process. In prokaryotes, a single RNA-binding protein, a selenocysteine-specific elongation factor, interacts with both the tRNA and mRNA to confer decoding. Whether eukaryotes use a similar mechanism is currently the subject of intense investigation.

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