The scanning model for translation: an update

J Cell Biol. 1989 Feb;108(2):229-41. doi: 10.1083/jcb.108.2.229.


The small (40S) subunit of eukaryotic ribosomes is believed to bind initially at the capped 5'-end of messenger RNA and then migrate, stopping at the first AUG codon in a favorable context for initiating translation. The first-AUG rule is not absolute, but there are rules for breaking the rule. Some anomalous observations that seemed to contradict the scanning mechanism now appear to be artifacts. A few genuine anomalies remain unexplained.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Codon
  • Genes, Fungal
  • Genes, Viral
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA, Transfer, Amino Acyl / metabolism
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Ribosomes / metabolism


  • Codon
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Transfer, Amino Acyl
  • tRNA(m)(Met), methionine-