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RNA. 1998 Aug;4(8):958-72.

The stretch of C-terminal acidic amino acids of translational release factor eRF1 is a primary binding site for eRF3 of fission yeast.

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Department of Tumor Biology, The Institute of Medical Science, The University of Tokyo, Japan.


Translation termination in eukaryotes requires a codon-specific (class-I) release factor, eRF1, and a GTP/GDP-dependent (class-II) release factor, eRF3. The model of "molecular mimicry between release factors and tRNA" predicts that eRF1 mimics tRNA to read the stop codon and that eRF3 mimics elongation factor EF-Tu to bring eRF1 to the A site of the ribosome for termination of protein synthesis. In this study, we set up three systems, in vitro affinity binding, a yeast two-hybrid system, and in vitro competition assay, to determine the eRF3-binding site of eRF1 using the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe proteins and creating systematic deletions in eRF1. The in vitro affinity binding experiments demonstrated that the predicted tRNA-mimicry truncation of eRF1 (Sup45) forms a stable complex with eRF3 (Sup35). All three test systems revealed that the most critical binding site is located at the C-terminal region of eRF1, which is conserved among eukaryotic eRF1s and rich in acidic amino acids. To our surprise, however, the C-terminal deletion eRF1 seems to be sufficient for cell viability in spite of the severe defect in eRF3 binding when expressed in a temperature-sensitive sup45 mutant of the budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. These results cannot be accounted for by the simple "eRF3-EF-Tu mimicry" model, but may provide new insight into the eRF3 function for translation termination in eukaryotes.

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