Translational control of regA, a key gene controlling cell differentiation in Volvox carteri

Babinger, K., Hallmann, A. & Schmitt, R. (2006). Development 133, 4045 4051.

The complete division of labour between the reproductive and somatic cells of the green alga Volvox carteri is controlled by three types of genes. One of these is the regA gene, which controls terminal differentiation of the somatic cells. Here, we examined translational control elements located in the 5' UTR of regA, particularly the eight upstream start codons (AUGs) that have to be bypassed by the translation machinery before regA can be translated. The results of our systematic mutational, structural and functional analysis of the 5' UTR led us to conclude that a ribosome-shunting mechanism - rather than leaky scanning, ribosomal reinitiation, or internal ribosome entry site (IRES)-mediated initiation - controls the translation of regA mRNA. This mechanism, which involves dissociation of the 40S initiation complex from the message, followed by reattachment downstream, in order to bypass a secondary structure block in the mRNA, was validated by deleting the predicted 'landing site' (which prevented regA expression) and inserting a stable 64 nucleotide hairpin just upstream of this site (which did not prevent regA expression). We believe that this is the first report suggesting that translation of an mRNA in a green eukaryote is controlled by ribosome shunting.



Copyright © 2010 by Prof. Dr. Armin Hallmann, University of Bielefeld, Germany