Methionine-independent initiation of translation in the capsid protein of an insect RNA virus

Jun Sasaki, Nobuhiko Nakashima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Protein synthesis is believed to be initiated with the amino acid methionine because the AUG translation initiation codon of mRNAs is recognized by the anticodon of initiator methionine transfer RNA. A group of positive-stranded RNA viruses of insects, however, lacks an AUG translation initiation codon for their capsid protein gene, which is located at the downstream part of the genome. The capsid protein of one of these viruses, Plautia stali intestine virus, is synthesized by internal ribosome entry site-mediated translation. Here we report that methionine is not the initiating amino acid in the translation of the capsid protein in this virus. Its translation is initiated with glutamine encoded by a CAA codon that is the first codon of the capsid-coding region. The nucleotide sequence immediately upstream of the capsid-coding region interacts with a loop segment in the stem-loop structure located 15-43 nt upstream of the 5' end of the capsid-coding region. The pseudoknot structure formed by this base pair interaction is essential for translation of the capsid protein. This mechanism for translation initiation differs from the conventional one in that the initiation step controlled by the initiator methionine transfer RNA is not necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1512-1515
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15-02-2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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