Translation termination in eukaryotes is mediated by two release factors, eRF1 and eRF3. eRF1 recognizes each of the three stop codons (UAG, UAA, and UGA) and facilitates release of the nascent polypeptide chain. eRF3 is a GTPase that stimulates the translation termination process by a poorly characterized mechanism. In this study, we examined the functional importance of GTP hydrolysis by eRF3 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We found that mutations that reduced the rate of GTP hydrolysis also reduced the efficiency of translation termination at some termination signals but not others. As much as a 17-fold decrease in the termination efficiency was observed at some tetranucleotide termination signals (characterized by the stop codon and the first following nucleotide), while no effect was observed at other termination signals. To determine whether this stop signal-dependent decrease in the efficiency of translation termination was due to a defect in either eRF1 or eRF3 recycling, we reduced the level of eRF1 or eRF3 in cells by expressing them individually from the CUP1 promoter. We found that the limitation of either factor resulted in a general decrease in the efficiency of translation termination rather than a decrease at a subset of termination signals as observed with the eRF3 GTPase mutants. We also found that overproduction of eRF1 was unable to increase the efficiency of translation termination at any termination signals. Together, these results suggest that the GTPase activity of eRF3 is required to couple the recognition of translation termination signals by eRF1 to efficient polypeptide chain release.
Termination of translation in eukaryotes is controlled by two interacting polypeptide chain release factors, eRF1 and eRF3. While eRF1 recognizes nonsense codons, eRF3 facilitates polypeptide chain release from the ribosome in a GTP-dependent manner. Besides termination, both release factors have essential, but poorly characterized functions outside of translation.
To characterize further the functions of yeast eRF1 and eRF3, a genetic screen for their novel partner proteins was performed. As a result, the genes for γ (TEF4 and TEF3/CAM1) and α (TEF5/EFB1) subunits of the translation elongation factor eEF1B, known to catalyze the exchange of bound GDP for GTP on eEF1A, were revealed. These genes act as dosage suppressors of a synthetic growth defect caused by some mutations in the SUP45 and SUP35 genes encoding eRF1 and eRF3, respectively. Extra copies of TEF5 and TEF3 can also suppress the temperature sensitivity of some sup45 and sup35 mutants and reduce nonsense codon readthrough caused by these omnipotent suppressors. Besides, overproduction of eEF1Bα reduces nonsense codon readthrough in the strain carrying suppressor tRNA. Such effects were not shown for extra copies of TEF2, which encodes eEF1A, thus indicating that they were not due to eEF1A activation.
The data obtained demonstrate involvement of the translation elongation factor eEF1B in modulating the functions of translation termination factors and suggest its possible role in GDP for GTP exchange on eRF3.
eRF3 is a GTPase associated with eRF1 in a complex that mediates translation termination in eukaryotes. In mammals, two genes encode two distinct forms of eRF3, eRF3a and eRF3b, which differ in their N-terminal domains. Both bind eRF1 and stimulate its release activity in vitro. However, whether both proteins can function as termination factors in vivo has not been determined. In this study, we used short interfering RNAs to examine the effect of eRF3a and eRF3b depletion on translation termination efficiency in human cells. By measuring the readthrough at a premature nonsense codon in a reporter mRNA, we found that eRF3a silencing induced an important increase in readthrough whereas eRF3b silencing had no significant effect. We also found that eRF3a depletion reduced the intracellular level of eRF1 protein by affecting its stability. In addition, we showed that eRF3b overexpression alleviated the effect of eRF3a silencing on readthrough and on eRF1 cellular levels. These results suggest that eRF3a is the major factor acting in translation termination in mammals and clearly demonstrate that eRF3b can substitute for eRF3a in this function. Finally, our data indicate that the expression level of eRF3a controls the formation of the termination complex by modulating eRF1 protein stability.
Termination translation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae is controlled by two interacting polypeptide chain release factors, eRF1 and eRF3. Two regions in human eRF1, position at 281-305 and position at 411-415, were proposed to be involved on the interaction to eRF3. In this study we have constructed and characterized yeast eRF1 mutant at position 410 (correspond to 415 human eRF1) from tyrosine to serine residue resulting eRF1(Y410S). The mutations did not affect the viability and temperature sensitivity of the cell. The stop codons suppression of the mutant was analyzed in vivo using PGK-stop codon-LACZ gene fusion and showed that the suppression of the mutant was significantly increased in all of codon terminations. The suppression on UAG codon was the highest increased among the stop codons by comparing the suppression of the wild type respectively. In vitro interaction between eRF1 (mutant and wild type) to eRF3 were carried out using eRF1-(His)6 and eRF1(Y410S)-(His)6 expressed in Escherichia coli and indigenous Saccharomyces cerevisiae eRF3. The results showed that the binding affinity of eRF1(Y410S) to eRF3 was decreased up to 20% of the wild type binding affinity. Computer modeling analysis using Swiss-Prot and Amber version 9.0 programs revealed that the overall structure of eRF1(Y410S) has no significant different with the wild type. However, substitution of tyrosine to serine triggered the structural change on the other motif of C-terminal domain of eRF1. The data suggested that increasing stop codon suppression and decreasing of the binding affinity of eRF1(Y410S) were probably due to the slight modification on the structure of the C-terminal domain.
eRF1; eRF3; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; termination translation; nonsense codon suppression; binding affinity
Translation termination in eukaryotes is governed by the concerted action of eRF1 and eRF3 factors. eRF1 recognizes the stop codon in the A site of the ribosome and promotes nascent peptide chain release, and the GTPase eRF3 facilitates this peptide release via its interaction with eRF1. In addition to its role in termination, eRF3 is involved in normal and nonsense-mediated mRNA decay through its association with cytoplasmic poly(A)-binding protein (PABP) via PAM2-1 and PAM2-2 motifs in the N-terminal domain of eRF3. We have studied complex formation between full-length eRF3 and its ligands (GDP, GTP, eRF1 and PABP) using isothermal titration calorimetry, demonstrating formation of the eRF1:eRF3:PABP:GTP complex. Analysis of the temperature dependence of eRF3 interactions with G nucleotides reveals major structural rearrangements accompanying formation of the eRF1:eRF3:GTP complex. This is in contrast to eRF1:eRF3:GDP complex formation, where no such rearrangements were detected. Thus, our results agree with the established active role of GTP in promoting translation termination. Through point mutagenesis of PAM2-1 and PAM2-2 motifs in eRF3, we demonstrate that PAM2-2, but not PAM2-1 is indispensible for eRF3:PABP complex formation.
Translation termination in eukaryotes is completed by two interacting factors eRF1 and eRF3. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, these proteins are encoded by the genes SUP45 and SUP35, respectively. The eRF1 protein interacts directly with the stop codon at the ribosomal A-site, whereas eRF3—a GTPase protein—probably acts as a proofreading factor, coupling stop codon recognition to polypeptide chain release. We performed random PCR mutagenesis of SUP45 and screened the library for mutations resulting in increased eRF1 activity. These mutations led to the identification of two new pockets in domain 1 (P1 and P2) involved in the regulation of eRF1 activity. Furthermore, we identified novel mutations located in domains 2 and 3, which confer stop codon specificity to eRF1. Our findings are consistent with the model of a closed-active conformation of eRF1 and shed light on two new functional regions of the protein.
Termination of protein synthesis in eukaryotes involves at least two polypeptide release factors (eRFs) – eRF1 and eRF3. The highly conserved translation termination factor eRF1 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae is encoded by the essential gene SUP45.
We have isolated five sup45-n (n from nonsense) mutations that cause nonsense substitutions in the following amino acid positions of eRF1: Y53 → UAA, E266 → UAA, L283 → UAA, L317 → UGA, E385 → UAA. We found that full-length eRF1 protein is present in all mutants, although in decreased amounts. All mutations are situated in a weak termination context. All these sup45-n mutations are viable in different genetic backgrounds, however their viability increases after growth in the absence of wild-type allele. Any of sup45-n mutations result in temperature sensitivity (37°C). Most of the sup45-n mutations lead to decreased spore viability and spores bearing sup45-n mutations are characterized by limited budding after germination leading to formation of microcolonies of 4–20 cells.
Nonsense mutations in the essential gene SUP45 can be isolated in the absence of tRNA nonsense suppressors.
The SUP45 and SUP35 genes of Saccharomyces cerevisiae encode polypeptide chain release factors eRF1 and eRF3, respectively. It has been suggested that the Sup35 protein (Sup35p) is subject to a heritable conformational switch, similar to mammalian prions, thus giving rise to the non-Mendelian [PSI+] nonsense suppressor determinant. In a [PSI+] state, Sup35p forms high-molecular-weight aggregates which may inhibit Sup35p activity, leading to the [PSI+] phenotype. Sup35p is composed of the N-terminal domain (N) required for [PSI+] maintenance, the presumably nonfunctional middle region (M), and the C-terminal domain (C) essential for translation termination. In this study, we observed that the N domain, alone or as a part of larger fragments, can form aggregates in [PSI+] cells. Two sites for Sup45p binding were found within Sup35p: one is formed by the N and M domains, and the other is located within the C domain. Similarly to Sup35p, in [PSI+] cells Sup45p was found in aggregates. The aggregation of Sup45p is caused by its binding to Sup35p and was not observed when the aggregated Sup35p fragments did not contain sites for Sup45p binding. The incorporation of Sup45p into the aggregates should inhibit its activity. The N domain of Sup35p, responsible for its aggregation in [PSI+] cells, may thus act as a repressor of another polypeptide chain release factor, Sup45p. This phenomenon represents a novel mechanism of regulation of gene expression at the posttranslational level.
Protein synthesis requires a large commitment of cellular resources and is highly regulated. Previous studies have shown that a number of factors that mediate the initiation and elongation steps of translation are regulated by phosphorylation. In this report, we show that a factor involved in the termination step of protein synthesis is also subject to phosphorylation. Our results indicate that eukaryotic release factor 1 (eRF1) is phosphorylated in vivo at serine 421 and serine 432 by the CK2 protein kinase (previously casein kinase II) in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Phosphorylation of eRF1 has little effect on the efficiency of stop codon recognition or nonsense-mediated mRNA decay. Also, phosphorylation is not required for eRF1 binding to the other translation termination factor, eRF3. In addition, we provide evidence that the putative phosphatase Sal6p does not dephosphorylate eRF1 and that the state of eRF1 phosphorylation does not influence the allosuppressor phenotype associated with a sal6Δ mutation. Finally, we show that phosphorylation of eRF1 is a dynamic process that is dependent upon carbon source availability. Since many other proteins involved in protein synthesis have a CK2 protein kinase motif near their extreme C termini, we propose that this represents a common regulatory mechanism that is shared by factors involved in all three stages of protein synthesis.
Two eukaryotic proteins involved in translation termination have recently been characterized in in vitro experiments. Eukaryotic release factor 1 (eRF1) catalyzes the release of the polypeptide chain without any stop codon specificity. The GTP-binding protein eRF3 confers GTP dependence to the termination process and stimulates eRF1 activity. We used tRNA-mediated nonsense suppression at different stop codons in a cat reporter gene to analyze the polypeptide chain release factor activities of the human eRF1 and eRF3 proteins overexpressed in human cells. In a chloramphenicol acetyltransferase assay, we measured the competition between the suppressor tRNA and the human release factors when a stop codon was present in the ribosomal A site. Whatever the stop codon (UAA, UAG, or UGA) present in the cat open reading frame, the overexpression of human eRF1 alone markedly decreased translational readthrough by suppressor tRNA. Thus, like the procaryotic release factors RF1 and RF2 in Escherichia coli, eRF1 seems to have an intrinsic antisuppressor activity in human cells. Levels of antisuppression of overexpression of both eRF3 and eRF1 were almost the same as those of overexpression of eRF1 alone, suggesting that eRF1-eRF3 complex-mediated termination may be controlled by the expression level of eRF1. Surprisingly, when overexpressed alone, eRF3 had an inhibitory effect on cat gene expression. The results of cat mRNA stability studies suggest that eRF3 inhibits gene expression at the transcriptional level. This indicates that in vivo, eRF3 may perform other functions, including the stimulation of eRF1 activity.
When a stop codon is located in the ribosomal A-site, the termination complex promotes release of the polypeptide and dissociation of the 80S ribosome. In eukaryotes two proteins eRF1 and eRF3 play a crucial function in the termination process. The essential GTPase Sup35p, the eRF3 release factor of Saccharomyces cerevisiae is highly conserved. In particular, we observed that all eRF3 homologs share a potential phosphorylation site at threonine 341, suggesting a functional role for this residue. The goal of this study was to determine whether this residue is actually phosphorylated in yeast and if it is involved in the termination activity of the protein.
We detected no phosphorylation of the Sup35 protein in vivo. However, we show that it is phosphorylated by the cAMP-dependent protein kinase A on T341 in vitro. T341 was mutated to either alanine or to aspartic acid to assess the role of this residue in the activity of the protein. Both mutant proteins showed a large decrease of GTPase activity and a reduced interaction with eRF1/Sup45p. This was correlated with an increase of translational readthrough in cells carrying the mutant alleles. We also show that this residue is involved in functional interaction between the N- and C-domains of the protein.
Our results point to a new critical residue involved in the translation termination activity of Sup35 and in functional interaction between the N- and C-domains of the protein. They also raise interesting questions about the relation between GTPase activity of Sup35 and its essential function in yeast.
Translation termination in eukaryotes typically requires the decoding of one of three stop codons UAA, UAG or UGA by the eukaryotic release factor eRF1. The molecular mechanisms that allow eRF1 to decode either A or G in the second nucleotide, but to exclude UGG as a stop codon, are currently not well understood. Several models of stop codon recognition have been developed on the basis of evidence from mutagenesis studies, as well as studies on the evolutionary sequence conservation of eRF1. We show here that point mutants of Saccharomyces cerevisiae eRF1 display significant variability in their stop codon read-through phenotypes depending on the background genotype of the strain used, and that evolutionary conservation of amino acids in eRF1 is only a poor indicator of the functional importance of individual residues in translation termination. We further show that many phenotypes associated with eRF1 mutants are quantitatively unlinked with translation termination defects, suggesting that the evolutionary history of eRF1 was shaped by a complex set of molecular functions in addition to translation termination. We reassess current models of stop-codon recognition by eRF1 in the light of these new data.
Eukaryotic release factor 3 (eRF3) is a GTPase associated with eRF1 in a complex that mediates translation termination in eukaryotes. Studies have related eRF3 with cell cycle regulation, cytoskeleton organization, and tumorigenesis. In mammals, two genes encode two distinct forms of eRF3, eRF3a and eRF3b, which differ in their N-terminal domains. eRF3a is the major factor acting in translation termination, and its expression level controls termination complex formation. Here, we investigate the role of eRF3a in cell cycle progression using short interfering RNAs and flow cytometry. We show that eRF3a depletion induces a G1 arrest and that eRF3a GTP-binding activity, but not the eRF3a N-terminal domain, is required to restore G1-to-S-phase progression. We also show that eRF3a depletion decreases the global translation rate and reduces the polysome charge of mRNA. Finally, we show that two substrates of the mammalian TOR (mTOR) kinase, 4E-BP1 and protein kinase S6K1, are hypophosphorylated in eRF3a-depleted cells. These results strongly suggest that the G1 arrest and the decrease in translation induced by eRF3a depletion are due to the inhibition of mTOR activity and hence that eRF3a belongs to the regulatory pathway of mTOR activity.
Termination of translation in eukaryotes is controlled by two interacting polypeptide chain release factors, eRFl and eRF3. eRFl recognizes nonsense codons UAA, UAG and UGA, while eRF3 stimulates polypeptide release from the ribosome in a GTP- and eRFl – dependent manner. Recent studies has shown that proteins interacting with these release factors can modulate the efficiency of nonsense codon readthrough.
We have isolated a nonessential yeast gene, which causes suppression of nonsense mutations, being in a multicopy state. This gene encodes a protein designated Itt1p, possessing a zinc finger domain characteristic of the TRIAD proteins of higher eukaryotes. Overexpression of Itt1p decreases the efficiency of translation termination, resulting in the readthrough of all three types of nonsense codons. Itt1p interacts in vitro with both eRFl and eRF3. Overexpression of eRFl, but not of eRF3, abolishes the nonsense suppressor effect of overexpressed Itt1p.
The data obtained demonstrate that Itt1p can modulate the efficiency of translation termination in yeast. This protein possesses a zinc finger domain characteristic of the TRIAD proteins of higher eukaryotes, and this is a first observation of such protein being involved in translation.
GTP hydrolysis catalyzed in the ribosome by a complex of two polypeptide release factors, eRF1 and eRF3, is required for fast and efficient termination of translation in eukaryotes. Here, isothermal titration calorimetry is used for the quantitative thermodynamic characterization of eRF3 interactions with guanine nucleotides, eRF1 and Mg2+. We show that (i) eRF3 binds GDP (Kd = 1.9 μM) and this interaction depends only minimally on the Mg2+ concentration; (ii) GTP binds to eRF3 (Kd = 0.5 μM) only in the presence of eRF1 and this interaction depends on the Mg2+ concentration; (iii) GTP displaces GDP from the eRF1•eRF3•GDP complex, and vice versa; (iv) eRF3 in the GDP-bound form improves its ability to bind eRF1; (v) the eRF1•eRF3 complex binds GDP as efficiently as free eRF3; (vi) the eRF1•eRF3 complex is efficiently formed in the absence of GDP/GTP but requires the presence of the C-terminus of eRF1 for complex formation. Our results show that eRF1 mediates GDP/GTP displacement on eRF3. We suggest that after formation of eRF1•eRF3•GTP•Mg2+, this quaternary complex binds to the ribosomal pretermination complex containing P-site-bound peptidyl-tRNA and the A-site-bound stop codon. The guanine nucleotide binding properties of eRF3 and of the eRF3•eRF1 complex profoundly differ from those of prokaryotic RF3.
Germination and early seedling development are coordinately regulated by glucose and phytohormones such as ABA, GA, and ethylene. However, the molecules that affect plant responses to glucose and phytohormones remain to be fully elucidated. Eukaryotic release factor 1 (eRF1) is responsible for the recognition of the stop codons in mRNAs during protein synthesis. Accumulating evidence indicates that eRF1 functions in other processes in addition to translation termination. The physiological role of eRF1-2, a member of the eRF1 family, in Arabidopsis was examined here. The eRF1-2 gene was found to be specifically induced by glucose. Arabidopsis plants overexpressing eRF1-2 were hypersensitive to glucose during germination and early seedling development. Such hypersensitivity to glucose was accompanied by a dramatic reduction of the expression of glucose-regulated genes, chlorophyll a/b binding protein and plastocyanin. The hypersensitive response was not due to the enhanced accumulation of ABA. In addition, the eRF1-2 overexpressing plants showed increased sensitivity to paclobutrazol, an inhibitor of GA biosynthesis, and exogenous GA restored their normal growth. By contrast, the loss-of-function erf1-2 mutant exhibited resistance to paclobutrazol, suggesting that eRF1-2 may exert a negative effect on the GA signalling pathway. Collectively, these data provide evidence in support of a novel role of eRF1-2 in affecting glucose and phytohormone responses in modulating plant growth and development.
Arabidopsis; eRF1-2; germination; gibberellin; glucose response
Recent studies of translational control suggest that translation termination may not be simply the end of synthesizing a protein but rather be involved in modulating both the translation efficiency and stability of a given transcript. Using recombinant eukaryotic release factor 3 (eRF3) and cellular extracts, we have shown for Saccharomyces cerevisiae that yeast eRF3 and Pab1p can interact. This interaction, mediated by the N+M domain of eRF3 and amino acids 473 to 577 of Pab1p, was demonstrated to be direct by the two-hybrid approach. We confirmed that a genetic interaction exists between eRF3 and Pab1p and showed that Pab1p overexpression enhances the efficiency of termination in SUP35 (eRF3) mutant and [PSI+] cells. This effect requires the interaction of Pab1p with eRF3. These data further strengthen the possibility that Pab1p has a role in coupling translation termination events with initiation of translation. Several lines of evidence indicate that Pab1p does not influence [PSI+] propagation. First, “[PSI+]-no-more” mutations do not affect eRF3-Pab1p two-hybrid interaction. Second, overexpression of PAB1 does not cure the [PSI+] phenotype or solubilize detectable amounts of eRF3. Third, prion-curing properties of overexpressed HSP104p, which is required for formation and maintenance of [PSI+], were not modified by excess Pab1p.
Two competing events, termination and readthrough (or nonsense suppression), can occur when a stop codon reaches the A-site of a translating ribosome. Translation termination results in hydrolysis of the final peptidyl-tRNA bond and release of the completed nascent polypeptide. Alternatively, readthrough, in which the stop codon is erroneously decoded by a suppressor or near cognate transfer RNA (tRNA), results in translation past the stop codon and production of a protein with a C-terminal extension. The relative frequency of termination versus readthrough is determined by parameters such as the stop codon nucleotide context, the activities of termination factors and the abundance of suppressor tRNAs. Using a sensitive and versatile readthrough assay in conjunction with RNA interference technology, we assessed the effects of depleting eukaryotic releases factors 1 and 3 (eRF1 and eRF3) on the termination reaction in human cell lines. Consistent with the established role of eRF1 in triggering peptidyl-tRNA hydrolysis, we found that depletion of eRF1 enhances readthrough at all three stop codons in 293 cells and HeLa cells. The role of eRF3 in eukarytotic translation termination is less well understood as its overexpression has been shown to have anti-suppressor effects in yeast but not mammalian systems. We found that depletion of eRF3 has little or no effect on readthrough in 293 cells but does increase readthrough at all three stop codons in HeLa cells. These results support a direct role for eRF3 in translation termination in higher eukaryotes and also highlight the potential for differences in the abundance or activity of termination factors to modulate the balance of termination to readthrough reactions in a cell-type-specific manner.
In yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae translation termination factors eRF1 (Sup45) and eRF3 (Sup35) are encoded by the essential genes SUP45 and SUP35 respectively. Heritable aggregation of Sup35 results in formation of the yeast prion [PSI+]. It is known that combination of [PSI+] with some mutant alleles of the SUP35 or SUP45 genes in one and the same haploid yeast cell causes synthetic lethality. In this study, we perform detailed analysis of synthetic lethality between various sup45 nonsense and missense mutations on one hand, and different variants of [PSI+] on the other hand. Synthetic lethality with sup45 mutations was detected for [PSI+] variants of different stringencies. Moreover, we demonstrate for the first time that in some combinations, synthetic lethality is dominant and occurs at the postzygotic stage after only a few cell divisions. The tRNA suppressor SUQ5 counteracts the prion-dependent lethality of the nonsense alleles but not of the missense alleles of SUP45, indicating that the lethal effect is due to the depletion of Sup45. Synthetic lethality is also suppressed in the presence of the C-proximal fragment of Sup35 (Sup35C) that lacks the prion domain and cannot be included into the prion aggregates. Remarkably, the production of Sup35C in a sup45 mutant strain is also accompanied by an increase in the Sup45 levels, suggesting that translationally active Sup35 up-regulates Sup45 or protects it from degradation.
Sup45; Sup35; eRF1; eRF3; amyloid; [PSI+]; translation termination; Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Translation termination in eukaryotes is mediated by the release factors eRF1 and eRF3, but mechanisms of the interplay between these factors are not fully understood, due partly to the difficulty of measuring termination on eukaryotic mRNAs. Here, we describe an in vitro system for the assay of termination using competition with programmed frameshifting at the recoding signal of mammalian antizyme. The efficiency of antizyme frameshifting in rabbit reticulocyte lysates was reduced by addition of recombinant rabbit eRF1 and eRF3 in a synergistic manner. Addition of suppressor tRNA to this assay system revealed competition with a third event, stop codon readthrough. Using these assays, we demonstrated that an eRF3 mutation at the GTPase domain repressed termination in a dominant negative fashion probably by binding to eRF1. The effect of the release factors and the suppressor tRNA showed that the stop codon at the antizyme frameshift site is relatively inefficient compared to either the natural termination signals at the end of protein coding sequences or the readthrough signal from a plant virus. The system affords a convenient assay for release factor activity and has provided some novel views of the mechanism of antizyme frameshifting.
The reassignment of stop codons is common among many ciliate species. For example, Tetrahymena species recognize only UGA as a stop codon, while Euplotes species recognize only UAA and UAG as stop codons. Recent studies have shown that domain 1 of the translation termination factor eRF1 mediates stop codon recognition. While it is commonly assumed that changes in domain 1 of ciliate eRF1s are responsible for altered stop codon recognition, this has never been demonstrated in vivo. To carry out such an analysis, we made hybrid proteins that contained eRF1 domain 1 from either Tetrahymena thermophila or Euplotes octocarinatus fused to eRF1 domains 2 and 3 from Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We found that the Tetrahymena hybrid eRF1 efficiently terminated at all three stop codons when expressed in yeast cells, indicating that domain 1 is not the sole determinant of stop codon recognition in Tetrahymena species. In contrast, the Euplotes hybrid facilitated efficient translation termination at UAA and UAG codons but not at the UGA codon. Together, these results indicate that while domain 1 facilitates stop codon recognition, other factors can influence this process. Our findings also indicate that these two ciliate species used distinct approaches to diverge from the universal genetic code.
The nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) pathway promotes the rapid degradation of mRNAs containing premature termination codons (PTCs). In yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the activity of the NMD pathway depends on the recognition of the PTC by the translational machinery. Translation termination factors eRF1 (Sup45) and eRF3 (Sup35) participate not only in the last step of protein synthesis but also in mRNA degradation and translation initiation via interaction with such proteins as Pab1, Upf1, Upf2 and Upf3.
In this work we have used previously isolated sup45 mutants of S. cerevisiae to characterize degradation of aberrant mRNA in conditions when translation termination is impaired. We have sequenced his7-1, lys9-A21 and trp1-289 alleles which are frequently used for analysis of nonsense suppression. We have established that sup45 nonsense and missense mutations lead to accumulation of his7-1 mRNA and CYH2 pre-mRNA. Remarkably, deletion of the UPF1 gene suppresses some sup45 phenotypes. In particular, sup45-n upf1Δ double mutants were less temperature sensitive, and more resistant to paromomycin than sup45 single mutants. In addition, deletion of either UPF2 or UPF3 restored viability of sup45-n double mutants.
This is the first demonstration that sup45 mutations do not only change translation fidelity but also acts by causing a change in mRNA stability.
Translation termination in eukaryotes is catalyzed by two release factors eRF1 and eRF3 in a cooperative manner. The precise mechanism of stop codon discrimination by eRF1 remains obscure, hindering drug development targeting aberrations at translation termination. By solving the solution structures of the wild-type N-domain of human eRF1 exhibited omnipotent specificity, i.e. recognition of all three stop codons, and its unipotent mutant with UGA-only specificity, we found the conserved GTS loop adopting alternate conformations. We propose that structural variability in the GTS loop may underline the switching between omnipotency and unipotency of eRF1, implying the direct access of the GTS loop to the stop codon. To explore such feasibility, we positioned N-domain in a pre-termination ribosomal complex using the binding interface between N-domain and model RNA oligonucleotides mimicking Helix 44 of 18S rRNA. NMR analysis revealed that those duplex RNA containing 2-nt internal loops interact specifically with helix α1 of N-domain, and displace C-domain from a non-covalent complex of N-domain and C-domain, suggesting domain rearrangement in eRF1 that accompanies N-domain accommodation into the ribosomal A site.
In response to severe environmental stresses eukaryotic cells shut down translation and accumulate components of the translational machinery in stress granules (SGs). Since they contain mainly mRNA, translation initiation factors and 40S ribosomal subunits, they have been referred to as dominant accumulations of stalled translation preinitiation complexes. Here we present evidence that the robust heat shock-induced SGs of S. cerevisiae also contain translation elongation factors eEF3 (Yef3p) and eEF1Bγ2 (Tef4p) as well as translation termination factors eRF1 (Sup45p) and eRF3 (Sup35p). Despite the presence of the yeast prion protein Sup35 in heat shock-induced SGs, we found out that its prion-like domain is not involved in the SGs assembly. Factors eEF3, eEF1Bγ2 and eRF1 were accumulated and co-localized with Dcp2 foci even upon a milder heat shock at 42°C independently of P-bodies scaffolding proteins. We also show that eEF3 accumulations at 42°C determine sites of the genuine SGs assembly at 46°C. We suggest that identification of translation elongation and termination factors in SGs might help to understand the mechanism of the eIF2α factor phosphorylation-independent repression of translation and SGs assembly.
The nonsense-mediated decay (NMD) pathway subjects mRNAs with premature termination codons (PTCs) to rapid decay. The conserved Upf1–3 complex interacts with the eukaryotic translation release factors, eRF3 and eRF1, and triggers NMD when translation termination takes place at a PTC. Contrasting models postulate central roles in PTC-recognition for the exon junction complex in mammals versus the cytoplasmic poly(A)-binding protein (PABP) in other eukaryotes. Here we present evidence for a unified model for NMD, in which PTC recognition in human cells is mediated by a competition between 3′ UTR–associated factors that stimulate or antagonize recruitment of the Upf complex to the terminating ribosome. We identify cytoplasmic PABP as a human NMD antagonizing factor, which inhibits the interaction between eRF3 and Upf1 in vitro and prevents NMD in cells when positioned in proximity to the termination codon. Surprisingly, only when an extended 3′ UTR places cytoplasmic PABP distally to the termination codon does a downstream exon junction complex enhance NMD, likely through increasing the affinity of Upf proteins for the 3′ UTR. Interestingly, while an artificial 3′ UTR of >420 nucleotides triggers NMD, a large subset of human mRNAs contain longer 3′ UTRs but evade NMD. We speculate that these have evolved to concentrate NMD-inhibiting factors, such as PABP, in spatial proximity of the termination codon.
The nonsense-mediated mRNA decay pathway is responsible for rapidly degrading mRNAs with premature termination codons. This is important because it prevents the production of potentially deleterious truncated proteins from aberrant mRNAs, such as those that have undergone erroneous processing. How does the cell discriminate aberrant mRNAs from those that are normal? Here we present evidence that in human cells, the targeting of an mRNA to nonsense-mediated mRNA decay depends on a competition between proteins associated with the mRNA 3′ UTR that stimulate or antagonize mRNA decay. We show that cytoplasmic poly(A)-binding protein, a protein associated with the mRNA 3′ end poly(A) tail, antagonizes mRNA decay. By contrast, a protein complex deposited onto mRNAs upon pre-mRNA splicing, called the exon junction complex, stimulates mRNA decay. Our observations suggest that the competition between these proteins, and probably other unknown proteins with similar activities, determines whether a key protein complex in the pathway, the Upf complex, is recruited to the mRNA upon translation termination, which leads to mRNA decay.
Human mRNAs with premature termination codons are detected and degraded by nonsense-mediated decay when 3' untranslated region-associated proteins, such as poly(A)-binding protein, are absent from the proximity of the terminating ribosome.