Ribosomes slide on lysine-encoding homopolymeric A stretches

Kristin S. Koutmou, Anthony P. Schuller, Julie L. Brunelle, Aditya Radhakrishnan, Sergej Djuranovic, Rachel Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Protein output from synonymous codons is thought to be equivalent if appropriate tRNAs are sufficiently abundant. Here we show that mRNAs encoding iterated lysine codons, AAA or AAG, differentially impact protein synthesis: insertion of iterated AAA codons into an ORF diminishes protein expression more than insertion of synonymous AAG codons. Kinetic studies in E. coli reveal that differential protein production results from pausing on consecutive AAA-lysines followed by ribosome sliding on homopolymeric A sequence. Translation in a cell free-expression system demonstrates that diminished output from AAA-codon-containing reporters results from premature translation termination on out of frame stop codons following ribosome sliding. In eukaryotes, these premature termination events target the mRNAs for Nonsense-Mediated-Decay (NMD). The finding that ribosomes slide on homopolymeric A sequences explains bioinformatic analyses indicating that consecutive AAA codons are under-represented in gene-coding sequences. Ribosome 'sliding' represents an unexpected type of ribosome movement possible during translation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere05534
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 19 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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