Translation extracts were prepared from various strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The translation of mRNA molecules in these extracts was cooperatively enhanced by the presence of 5'-terminal cap structures and 3'- terminal poly(A) sequences. These cooperative effects could not be observed in other translation systems such as those prepared from rabbit reticulocytes, wheat germ, and human HeLa cells. Because the yeast translation system mimicked the effects of the cap structure and poly(A) tail on translational efficiency seen in vivo, this system was used to study cap- dependent and cap-independent translation of viral and cellular mRNA molecules. Both the 5' noncoding regions of hepatitis C virus and those of coxsackievirus B1 conferred cap-independent translation to a reporter coding region during translation in the yeast extracts; thus, the yeast translational apparatus is capable of initiating cap-independent translation. Although the translation of most yeast mRNAs was cap dependent, the unusually long 5' noncoding regions of mRNAs encoding cellular transcription factors TFIID and HAP4 were shown to mediate cap-independent translation in these extracts. Furthermore, both TFIID and HAP4 5' noncoding regions mediated translation of a second cistron when placed into the intercistronic spacer region of a dicistronic mRNA, indicating that these leader sequences can initiate translation by an internal ribosome binding mechanism in this in vitro translation system. This finding raises the possibility that an internal translation initiation mechanism exists in yeast cells for regulated translation of endogenous mRNAs.
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