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This study identified four novel regulatory non-AUG-initiated upstream ORFs (uORFs) with evolutionarily conserved sequences in Arabidopsis and elucidated the mechanism by which a non-AUG-initiated uORF promotes main ORF translation. Upstream open reading frames (uORFs) are short ORFs found in the 5'-untranslated regions (5'-UTRs) of eukaryotic transcripts and can influence the translation of protein-coding main ORFs (mORFs). Recent genome-wide ribosome profiling studies have revealed that hundreds or thousands of uORFs initiate translation at non-AUG start codons. However, the physiological significance of these non-AUG uORFs has so far been demonstrated for only a few of them. In this study, to identify physiologically important regulatory non-AUG uORFs in Arabidopsis, we took an approach that combined bioinformatics and experimental analysis. Since physiologically important non-AUG uORFs are likely to be conserved across species, we first searched the Arabidopsis genome for non-AUG-initiated uORFs with evolutionarily conserved sequences. Then, we examined the effects of the conserved non-AUG uORFs on the expression of the downstream mORFs using transient expression assays. As a result, three inhibitory and one promotive non-AUG uORFs were identified. Among the inhibitory non-AUG uORFs, two exerted repressive effects on mORF expression in an amino acid sequence-dependent manner. These two non-AUG uORFs are likely to encode regulatory peptides that cause ribosome stalling, thereby enhancing their repressive effects. In contrast, one of the identified regulatory non-AUG uORFs promoted mORF expression by alleviating the inhibitory effect of a downstream AUG-initiated uORF. These findings provide insights into the mechanisms that enable non-AUG uORFs to play regulatory roles despite their low translation initiation efficiencies.© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.


Yuta Hiragori, Hiro Takahashi, Taihei Karino, Atsushi Kaido, Noriya Hayashi, Shun Sasaki, Kodai Nakao, Taichiro Motomura, Yui Yamashita, Satoshi Naito, Hitoshi Onouchi. Genome-wide identification of Arabidopsis non-AUG-initiated upstream ORFs with evolutionarily conserved regulatory sequences that control protein expression levels. Plant molecular biology. 2022 Aug 31

PMID: 36044152

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