Translation control of gene expression
The bacteriophage lambda cIII gene product is an early regulator of the lysogenic pathway. The availability of a set of cIII expression mutants allowed us to establish the structure-function relationship of the cIII mRNA. We demonstrated, using defined in vitro systems, that the cIII mRNA is present in two conformations at equilibrium. Mutations that have been shown to lead to cIII overexpression were found to freeze the RNA in one conformation (structure B), and permit efficient binding to the 30S ribosomal subunit. Mutations that have been shown to prevent cIII translation cause the mRNA to assume the alternative conformation (structure A). In this structure, the translation initiation region is occluded, thereby preventing 30S ribosomal subunit binding. Translation of the cIII gene is regulated by RNaseIII. We have localized the RNaseIII responsive element (RRE) to the cIII coding region. We suggest that the regulation of the equilibrium between the two mRNA conformations provides a mechanism for the control of cIII gene expression. The way in which RNaseIII participates in this regulation is as yet unknown.
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