B. Franz Lang, Michaela Jakubkova, Eva Hegedusova, Rachid Daoud, Lise Forget, Brona Brejova, Tomas Vinar, Peter Kosa, Dominika Fricova, Martina Nebohacova, Peter Griac, Lubomir Tomaska, Gertraud Burger, Jozef Nosek. Massive programmed translational jumping in mitochondria. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(16):5926-5931. 2014.
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Programmed translational bypassing is a process whereby ribosomes 'ignore' a substantial interval of mRNA sequence. Although discovered 25 y ago, the only experimentally confirmed example of this puzzling phenomenon is expression of the bacteriophage T4 gene 60. Bypassing requires translational blockage at a 'takeoff codon' immediately upstream of a stop codon followed by a hairpin, which causes peptidyl-tRNA dissociation and reassociation with a matching 'landing triplet' 50 nt downstream, where translation resumes. Here, we report 81 translational bypassing elements (byps) in mitochondria of the yeast Magnusiomyces capitatus and demonstrate in three cases, by transcript analysis and proteomics, that byps are retained in mitochondrial mRNAs but not translated. Although mitochondrial byps resemble the bypass sequence in the T4 gene 60, they utilize unused codons instead of stops for translational blockage and have relaxed matching rules for takeoff/landing sites. We detected byp-like sequences also in mtDNAs of several Saccharomycetales, indicating that byps are mobile genetic elements. These byp-like sequences lack bypassing activity and are tolerated when inserted in-frame in variable protein regions. We hypothesize that byp-like elements have the potential to contribute to evolutionary diversification of proteins by adding new domains that allow exploration of new structures and functions.