Membrane-dependent relief of translation elongation arrest on pseudouridine- and N1-methyl-pseudouridine-modified mRNAs

Nucleic Acids Res. 2022 Jul 22;50(13):7202-7215. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkab1241.


Expression of therapeutically important proteins has benefited dramatically from the advent of chemically modified mRNAs that feature decreased lability and immunogenicity. This had a momentous effect on the rapid development of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines. Incorporation of the naturally occurring pseudouridine (Ψ) or N1-methyl-pseudouridine (N1mΨ) into in vitro transcribed mRNAs prevents the activation of unwanted immune responses by blocking eIF2α phosphorylation, which inhibits translation. Here, we report that Ψs in luciferase (Luc) mRNA exacerbate translation pausing in nuclease-untreated rabbit reticulocyte lysate (uRRL) and promote the formation of high-order-ribosome structures. The major deceleration of elongation occurs at the Ψ-rich nucleotides 1294-1326 of Ψ-Luc mRNA and results in premature termination of translation. The impairment of translation is mainly due to the shortage of membranous components. Supplementing uRRL with canine microsomal membranes (CMMs) relaxes the impediments to ribosome movement, resolves collided ribosomes, and greatly enhances full-size luciferase production. CMMs also strongly stimulated an extremely inefficient translation of N1mΨ-Luc mRNA in uRRL. Evidence is presented that translational pausing can promote membrane recruitment of polysomes with nascent polypeptides that lack a signal sequence. Our results highlight an underappreciated role of membrane binding to polysomes in the prevention of ribosome collision and premature release of nascent polypeptides.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • COVID-19*
  • Dogs
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism*
  • Peptide Chain Elongation, Translational*
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Pseudouridine* / analogs & derivatives
  • Pseudouridine* / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger* / chemistry
  • RNA, Messenger* / metabolism
  • Rabbits


  • Peptides
  • RNA, Messenger
  • 1-methylpseudouridine
  • Pseudouridine