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Deconstructing internal ribosome entry site elements: an update of structural motifs and functional divergences

AuthorsLozano, Gloria; Francisco-Velilla, Rosario ; Martínez-Salas, Encarnación
KeywordsRNA structure
Translation control
IRES elements
Issue Date2018
CitationOpen Biology 8 (2018)
AbstractBeyond the general cap-dependent translation initiation, eukaryotic organisms use alternative mechanisms to initiate protein synthesis. Internal ribosome entry site (IRES) elements are cis-acting RNA regions that promote internal initiation of translation using a cap-independent mechanism. However, their lack of primary sequence and secondary RNA structure conservation, as well as the diversity of host factor requirement to recruit the ribosomal subunits, suggest distinct types of IRES elements. In spite of this heterogeneity, conserved motifs preserve sequences impacting on RNA structure and RNA-protein interactions important for IRES-driven translation. This conservation brings the question of whether IRES elements could consist of basic building blocks, which upon evolutionary selection result in functional elements with different properties. Although RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) perform a crucial role in the assembly of ribonucleoprotein complexes, the versatility and plasticity of RNA molecules, together with their high flexibility and dynamism, determines formation of macromolecular complexes in response to different signals. These properties rely on the presence of short RNA motifs, which operate as modular entities, and suggest that decomposition of IRES elements in short modules could help to understand the different mechanisms driven by these regulatory elements. Here we will review evidence suggesting that model IRES elements consist of the combination of short modules, providing sites of interaction for ribosome subunits, eIFs and RBPs, with implications for definition of criteria to identify novel IRES-like elements genome wide.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1098/rsob.180155
issn: 2046-2441
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