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Genes Dev. 1992 Sep;6(9):1643-53.

Homeotic gene Antennapedia mRNA contains 5'-noncoding sequences that confer translational initiation by internal ribosome binding.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver 80262.


The Antennapedia (Antp) homeotic gene of Drosophila melanogaster has two promoters, P1 and P2. The resulting Antp mRNAs contain 1512-nucleotide (P1) and 1727-nucleotide (P2) 5'-noncoding regions, composed of exons A, B, D, and E (P1) or exons C, D, and E (P2), respectively. Multiple AUG codons are present in exons A, B, and C. We have found that 252-nucleotide exon D, common to mRNAs from both transcription units and devoid of AUG codons, can mediate initiation of translation by internal ribosome binding in cultured cells. Many mRNAs in Drosophila contain long 5'-noncoding regions with apparently unused AUG codons, suggesting that internal ribosome binding may be a common mechanism of translational initiation, and possibly its regulation, in Drosophila.

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