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Regulation of Protein Synthesis by mRNA Structure

Over the last decade, multiple findings have illuminated the importance of the regulation of protein expression at the level of mRNA translation. mRNA is no longer considered a simple courier of genetic information between DNA and protein. For example, numerous studies begin to reveal that structured elements within the mRNA play a critical role in modulating the flow of genetic information from DNA to protein.

During translation elongation the ribosome moves along mRNA in a codon-by-codon manner unwinding mRNA secondary structure. While the ribosome translocates through most of mRNA molecule without long pauses, there are specific mRNA sequences shown to slow down ribosomal translocation and induce frameshifting. We aim to understand the mechanism of ribosomal stalling induced by these specific RNA sequences.

In addition, we investigate regulation of translation initiation in eukaryotes by secondary structure within the 5’ and 3’ untranslated regions (UTRs) of mRNAs.

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Figure legend: Does encountering mRNA secondary structure perturb ribosome structural dynamics and translation elongation?

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