Kleppe AS, Bornberg-Bauer E
Robustness by intrinsically disordered C-termini and translational readthrough
Nucleic Acids Research, 2018

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Abstract

During protein synthesis genetic instructions are passed from DNA via mRNA to the ribosome to assemble a protein chain. Occasionally, stop codons in the mRNA are bypassed and translation continues into the untranslated region (3′-UTR). This process, called translational readthrough (TR), yields a protein chain that becomes longer than would be predicted from the DNA sequence alone. Protein sequences vary in propensity for translational errors, which may yield evolutionary constraints by limiting evolutionary paths. Here we investigated TR in Saccharomyces cerevisiae by analysing ribosome profiling data. We clustered proteins as either prone or non-prone to TR, and conducted comparative analyses. We find that a relatively high frequency (5%) of genes undergo TR, including ribosomal subunit proteins. Our main finding is that proteins undergoing TR are highly expressed and have intrinsically disordered C-termini. We suggest that highly expressed proteins may compensate for the deleterious effects of TR by having intrinsically disordered C-termini, which may provide conformational flexibility but without distorting native function. Moreover, we discuss whether minimizing deleterious effects of TR is also enabling exploration of the phenotypic landscape of protein isoforms.