Characterization of the stop codon readthrough signal of Colorado tick fever virus segment 9 RNA.

Division of Virology, Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
RNA (Impact Factor: 4.62). 12/2011; 18(2):241-52. DOI: 10.1261/rna.030338.111
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Termination codon readthrough is utilized as a mechanism of expression of a growing number of viral and cellular proteins, but in many cases the mRNA signals that promote readthrough are poorly characterized. Here, we investigated the readthrough signal of Colorado tick fever virus (CTFV) segment 9 RNA (Seg-9). CTFV is the type-species of the genus Coltivirus within the family Reoviridae and is a tick-borne, double-stranded, segmented RNA virus. Seg-9 encodes a 36-kDa protein VP9, and by readthrough of a UGA stop codon, a 65-kDa product, VP9'. Using a reporter system, we defined the minimal sequence requirements for readthrough and confirmed activity in both mammalian and insect cell-free translation systems, and in transfected mammalian cells. Mutational analysis revealed that readthrough was UGA specific, and that the local sequence context around the UGA influenced readthrough efficiency. Readthrough was also dependent upon a stable RNA stem-loop structure beginning eight bases downstream from the UGA codon. Mutational analysis of this stem-loop revealed a requirement for the stem region but not for substructures identified within the loop. Unexpectedly, we were unable to detect a ribosomal pause during translation of the CTFV signal, suggesting that the mechanism of readthrough, at least at this site, is unlikely to be dependent upon RNA secondary-structure induced ribosomal pausing at the recoded stop codon.

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    Journal of Virology 07/2014; · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    eLife Sciences 01/2013; 2:e01179. · 8.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Stop codon readthrough is used extensively by viruses to expand their gene expression. Until recent discoveries in Drosophila, only a very limited number of readthrough cases in chromosomal genes had been reported. Analysis of conserved protein coding signatures that extend beyond annotated stop codons identified potential stop codon readthrough of four mammalian genes. Here we use a modified targeted bioinformatic approach to identify a further three mammalian readthrough candidates. All seven genes were tested experimentally using reporter constructs transfected into HEK-293T cells. Four displayed efficient stop codon readthrough, and these have UGA immediately followed by CUAG. Comparative genomic analysis revealed that in the four readthrough candidates containing UGA-CUAG, this motif is conserved not only in mammals but throughout vertebrates with the first six of the seven nucleotides being universally conserved. The importance of the CUAG motif was confirmed using a systematic mutagenesis approach. One gene, OPRL1, encoding an opiate receptor, displayed extremely efficient levels of readthrough (∼31%) in HEK-293T cells. Signals both 5' and 3' of the OPRL1 stop codon contribute to this high level of readthrough. The sequence UGA-CUA alone can support 1.5% readthrough, underlying its importance.
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