The translation initiation mechanism of archaebacteria is still not clearly understood. Our previous work showed that ATG triplets before start codons have been strongly depleted in eukaryotic genomes, presumably because ribosome of eukaryotes scans mRNA from the 5' to 3' direction to find proper start codons. Extra ATG triplets before start codons would confuse the process and thus they have been negatively selected in eukaryotic genomes. In eubacterial genomes, on the other hand, ribosome binds to the Shine-Dalgarno (SD) sequence at once without mRNA scanning, and the characteristic patterns of ATG triplet depletion were not observed (Saito, R., Tomita, M., 1999. On negative selection against ATG triplets near start codons in eukaryotic and procaryotic genomes. J. Mol. Evol. 48, 213-217). The ATG triplet analysis on archaebacterial genomes revealed that Methanococcus jannaschii and Pyrococcus horikoshii show patterns similar to eukaryotes, implying that these species employ scanning of mRNA from the 5' to 3' direction in the process of translation initiation. On the other hand, our earlier study found that these archaea have SD-like sequences, which are complementary to the 3' end sequence of 16S rRNA, as in eubacterial translation initiation (Osada, Y., Saito, R., Tomita, M. Analysis of base-pairing potentials between 16S rRNA and 5' UTR for translation initiation in various procaryotes. Bioinformatics, in press). These two results combined lead us to conclude that these archaea probably use a hybrid mechanism; their ribosome scans mRNAs from the 5' to 3' direction and then 16S rRNA binds to the SD-like sequence of the 5' UTR. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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