Messenger RNA: Interaction with Ribosomes


The recruitment and binding of a messenger RNA (mRNA) to the ribosome is a highly specific and regulated process. This process depends on unique sequences and structures within the mRNA, soluble auxiliary factors as well as the RNA and protein components of the ribosome to allow the synthesis of proteins.

Keywords: ribosome; messenger RNA; IRES; translation factor; Shine–Dalgarno

Figure 1.

The prokaryotic 70S ribosome is composed of a small (30S) and a large (50S) subunit. The 30S ribosomal subunit binds first and defines the start codon of the open reading frame, followed by joining of the 50S subunit. The complete ribosome continually moves down the messenger RNA (mRNA), adding amino acids and translocating the messenger RNA across the ribosomal RNA platform of the 30S subunit, three bases at a time. AA, amino acid; tRNA, transfer RNA.

Figure 2.

General features of the 5′ untranslated regions (5′‐UTRs) of prokaryotic and eukaryotic mRNAs. (a) The prokaryotic Shine–Dalgarno consensus sequence (italics) is upstream of the AUG. (b) The eukaryotic mRNA contains a 5′ 7‐methylguanosine (m7G) cap and the Kozak consensus sequence element surrounding the AUG.

Figure 3.

Prokaryotic mRNAs are polycistronic, containing multiple open reading frames (ORFs, boxes) where each initiation codon is downstream of the Shine–Dalgarno sequence (SD) and the region between the ORFs can vary; it may even overlap with the termination codon of the prior ORF.

Figure 4.

The general classes of viral internal ribosome entry sites (IRESs) in the 5′ untranslated region of the messenger RNA contain significant secondary structure, conserved stem–loops A and B, and polypyrimidine tracks (black boxes). They deposit the 40S subunit at (a) or near (b) the AUG.


Further Reading

Belsham GJ and Sonenberg N (1996) RNA–protein interactions in regulation of picornavirus RNA translation. Microbiology Reviews 60: 499–511.

Cate JH, Yusupov MM, Yusupova GZ, Earnest TN and Noller HF (1999) X‐ray crystal structures of 70S ribosome functional complexes. Science 285: 2095–2104.

Garrett RA, Douthwaite SR, Liljas A et al. (2000) The Ribosome: Structure, Function, Antibiotics, and Cellular Interactions. Washington, DC: ASM Press.

Hershey JWB, Sonenberg N and Mathews MB (2000) Translation Control of Gene Expression. Cold Spring Harbor, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

Kozak M (1999) Initiation of translation in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Gene 234: 187–208.

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How to Cite close
Carr‐Schmid, Anne, and Kinzy, Terri Goss(Apr 2001) Messenger RNA: Interaction with Ribosomes. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0000876]