Genes Dev 2009 Feb;23(3):331-44
Institut für Immunologie, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Tübingen, Germany.
Calicivirus structure proteins are expressed from a subgenomic mRNA with two overlapping cistrons. The first ORF of this RNA codes for the viral major capsid protein VP1, and the second for the minor capsid protein VP2. Translation of VP2 is mediated by a termination/reinitiation mechanism, which depends on an upstream sequence element of approximately 70 nucleotides denoted "termination upstream ribosomal binding site" (TURBS). Two short sequence motifs within the TURBS were found to be essential for reinitiation. By a whole set of single site mutations and reciprocal base exchanges we demonstrate here for the first time conclusive evidence for the necessity of mRNA/18S rRNA hybridization for translation reinitiation in an eukaryotic system. Moreover, we show that motif 2 exhibits intramolecular hybridization with a complementary region upstream of motif 1, thus forming a secondary structure that positions post-termination ribosomes in an optimal distance to the VP2 start codon. Analysis of the essential elements of the TURBS led to a better understanding of the requirements for translation termination/reinitiation in eukaryotes.