In this work, we have studied the in vitro translational features of a bicistronic mRNA of the extremely thermophilic Archaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus, with the aim of determining the nature of the cis-acting signals controlling the recognition of the translation initiation sites in the Archaea. We found that the most important feature for efficient initiation was the presence of a Shine–Dalgarno (SD)-like ribosome-binding motif, whose disruption entirely abolished the translation of the corresponding cistron. The influence of other features, such as the type of initiation codon, was variable and depended upon the gene and its position in the mRNA. However, the translational block caused by the disruption of the SD sequences could be removed by deleting the 5′ untranslated region altogether, thereby creating a ‘leaderless’ mRNA. This suggests that ‘leaderless’ initiation operates by a default mechanism that does not require a specific mRNA–rRNA interaction and may be common to all three primary domains of life.
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Document Type: Research Article
Dpt. Biotecnologie Cellulari ed Ematologia, Sez. Genetica Molecolare, Università di Roma ‘La Sapienza’, Policlinico Umberto I, Viale Regina Elena 324, 00161 Rome, Italy.,
October 1, 1999