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L-Myc protein synthesis is initiated by internal ribosome entry

Copyright 2004 by RNA Society
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An internal ribosome entry segment (IRES) has been identified in the 5′ untranslated region (5′ UTR) of two members of the myc family of proto-oncogenes, c-myc and N-myc. Hence, the synthesis of c-Myc and N-Myc polypeptides can involve the alternative mechanism of internal initiation. Here, we show that the 5′ UTR of L-myc, another myc family member, also contains an IRES. Previous studies have shown that the translation of mRNAs containing the c-myc and N-myc IRESs can involve both cap-dependent initiation and internal initiation. In contrast, the data presented here suggest that internal initiation can account for all of the translation initiation that occurs on an mRNA with the L-myc IRES in its 5′ UTR. Like many other cellular IRESs, the L-myc IRES appears to be modular in nature and the entire 5′ UTR is required for maximum IRES efficiency. The ribosome entry window within the L-myc IRES is located some distance upstream of the initiation codon, and thus, this IRES uses a “land and scan” mechanism to initiate translation. Finally, we have derived a secondary structural model for the IRES. The model confirms that the L-myc IRES is highly structured and predicts that a pseudoknot may form near the 5′ end of the mRNA.

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