But is the 5′ End of Messenger RNA Always Involved in Initiation?

  • Raul Pérez-Bercoff
Part of the NATO Advanced Study Institutes Series book series (NSSA, volume 41)


A preeminent feature of eukaryotic messenger RNAs is the presence of a peculiar structure of methylated nucleotides “capping” the 5′ end of the molecule. The cap structure seems to facilitate recognition of the messenger by eukaryotic ribosomes during the early steps of translation (1). The need for so direct an involvement of the 5′ end of the molecule in the process of initiation (conceptually in line with the generally accepted notion that all mRNA species are functionally monocistronic and, hence must contain only one initiation site for translation) appears far less evident when we come to consider the case of naturally un-capped mRNAs. Indeed, if the high affinity of the eukaryotic ribosome and its associated initiation factors for the 5′-terminal cap secures the proper positioning of the initiation complex at the 5′ end of the messenger, It becomes questionable why, in the absence of a cap structure, should still be the 5′ end the only possible entry site for ribosomes. And why should internal sequences be forbidden in messengers that have bypassed the need of a 5′-terminal cap.


Initiation Site Ribosomal Subunit Initiation Complex Internal Sequence Tryptic Fragment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raul Pérez-Bercoff
    • 1
  1. 1.The Institute for VirologyUniversity of RomeRomeItaly

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