Ribosome standby sites and other structural aspects of translation initiation regions in Escherichia coli

Sammanfattning: Translation initiation, which is rate-limiting in protein synthesis, is often the step at which regulation occurs. Here, we investigated several mechanisms of translation initiation in Escherichia coli, including their control. First, we showed that translation of the transcriptional regulator CsgD is inhibited by two sRNAs through a direct antisense mechanism.In some bacterial mRNAs, the ribosome binding site (RBS) is sequestered in a stable structure, which generally generates very low protein output. Yet, these mRNAs are often efficiently translated, which suggested the requirement for “ribosome standby sites”. Here, we investigated the structure and sequence features of an effective standby site using plasmid-borne GFP reporter constructs, and showed that relatively short, single-stranded regions near a structurally sequestered RBS can profoundly increase translation rates. Both the length and the sequence of these single-stranded regions are important for standby site efficiency, and the standby site needs to be single-stranded. This work serves as a proof-of-principle study of the ribosome standby model.To investigate the sequence-dependency of standby sites further, we used an unbiased approach, creating plasmid libraries containing millions of different standby sites in the same reporter plasmid as before. Cells were sorted by fluorescence according to translational levels, and standby sites analyzed by deep sequencing. This analysis showed that efficient standby sites have a low GC-content and rarely contain Shine-Dalgarno sequences. Additionally, nucleotides near the 3’-border of the standby region affect translation efficiency more than those closer to the 5’-end. Mutational and structure-probing experiments are planned to verify these findings.