Regulation of translation by specific protein/mRNA interactions

Biochimie. 1994;76(9):867-79. doi: 10.1016/0300-9084(94)90189-9.


This review will focus on cases of specific translational control by protein/RNA interactions in the 5'- or 3'-UTR of eukaryote mRNA where either the cis-acting RNA determinant or the trans-acting protein (or preferably both) have been identified with fair certainty. Examples of messages that are regulated by 5' motifs, which are proposed to occlude ribosome binding when bound by their specific factors, include ferritin and ribosomal protein mRNAs and the autoregulated thymidylate synthase and poly(A)-binding mRNAs. However, it has become increasingly evident recently that 3' UTR determinants and their specific binding proteins also regulate translation efficiency either directly, or indirectly via an influence on the polyadenylation status of the mRNA. It is still unclear how events at the 3' end of mRNA influence ribosome binding. Most, if not all, of the mRNAs known to be regulated by 3' UTR motifs are subject to regulation during early development or during differentiation such as several spermatocyte and oocyte mRNAs and erythroid lipoxygenase mRNA. To date, in all cases where translation is controlled directly by specific protein/mRNA interactions, the protein seems to act as a negative regulator, a translational repressor, whose binding to the specific site on the mRNA results in inhibition of initiation. The only cases of translational activation known so far concern internal initiation of translation of picornaviral RNAs, but this topic is beyond the scope of this review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Binding Proteins