Protein synthesis is regulated by the sequence and structure of the 5' untranslated region (UTR) of the mRNA transcript. In prokaryotes, the ribosome binding site (RBS), which promotes efficient and accurate translation of mRNA, is called the Shine-Dalgarno sequence after the scientists that first described it. This purine-rich sequence of 5' UTR is complementary to the UCCU core sequence of the 3'-end of 16S rRNA (located within the 30S small ribosomal subunit). Various Shine-Dalgarno sequences have been found in prokaryotic mRNAs (see Figure 1 for the consensus sequence). These sequences lie about 10 nucleotides upstream from the AUG start codon. Activity of a RBS can be influenced by the length and nucleotide composition of the spacer separating the RBS and the initiator AUG.
In eukaryotes, the Kozak sequence A/GCCACCAUGG, which lies within a short 5' untranslated region, directs translation of mRNA. An mRNA lacking the Kozak consensus sequence may be translated efficiently in Ambion's in vitro systems if it possesses a moderately long 5' UTR that lacks stable secondary structure. Our data demonstrate that in contrast to the E. coli ribosome, which preferentially recognizes the Shine-Dalgarno sequence, eukaryotic ribosomes (such as those found in retic lysate) can efficiently use either the Shine-Dalgarno or the Kozak ribosomal binding sites.
Consensus RBS Sequences
Figure 1. Consensus RBS Sequences. The +1 A is the first base of the AUG initiator codon (shaded) responsible for binding of fMet-tRNAfMet. The underline indicates the ribosomal binding site sequence, which is required for efficient translation.