Sequence requirements for ribosome stalling by the arginine attenuator peptide. Academic Article uri icon


  • The 5' regions of eukaryotic mRNAs often contain upstream open reading frames (uORFs). The Neurospora crassa arg-2 uORF encodes the 24-residue arginine attenuator peptide (AAP). This regulatory uORF-encoded peptide, which is evolutionarily conserved in fungal transcripts specifying an arginine biosynthetic enzyme, functions as a nascent peptide within the ribosomal tunnel and negatively regulates gene expression. The nascent AAP causes ribosomes to stall at the uORF stop codon in response to arginine, thus, blocking ribosomes from reaching the ARG-2 initiation codon. Here scanning mutagenesis with alanine and proline was performed to systematically determine which AAP residues were important for conferring regulation. Changing many of the most highly conserved residues (Asp-12, Tyr-13, Lys-14, and Trp-19) abolished regulatory function. The minimal functional domain of the AAP was determined by positioning AAP sequences internally within a large polypeptide. Pulse-chase analyses revealed that residues 9-20 of the AAP composed the minimal domain that was sufficient to confer regulatory function. An extensive analysis of predicted fungal AAPs revealed that the minimal functional domain of the N. crassa AAP corresponded closely to the region that was most highly conserved among the fungi. We also observed that the tripeptide RGD could function similarly to arginine in triggering AAP-mediated ribosome stalling. These studies provide a better understanding of the elements required for a nascent peptide and a small regulatory molecule to control translational processes.

published proceedings

  • J Biol Chem

author list (cited authors)

  • Spevak, C. C., Ivanov, I. P., & Sachs, M. S.

complete list of authors

  • Spevak, Christina C||Ivanov, Ivaylo P||Sachs, Matthew S

publication date

  • January 1, 2010 11:11 AM