Decoding and Recoding of mRNA Sequences by the Ribosome


Rodnina MV


Annual Reviews of Biophysics


Annu. Rev. Biophys. 2023. 52:161–82.


Faithful translation of messenger RNA (mRNA) into protein is essential to maintain protein homeostasis in the cell. Spontaneous translation errors are very rare due to stringent selection of cognate aminoacyl transfer RNAs (tRNAs) and the tight control of the mRNA reading frame by the ribosome. Recoding events, such as stop codon readthrough, frameshifting, and translational bypassing, reprogram the ribosome to make intentional mistakes and produce alternative proteins from the same mRNA. The hallmark of recoding is the change of ribosome dynamics. The signals for recoding are built into the mRNA, but their reading depends on the genetic makeup of the cell, resulting in cell-specific changes in expression programs. In this review, I discuss the mechanisms of canonical decoding and tRNA–mRNA translocation; describe alternative pathways leading to recoding; and identify the links among mRNA signals, ribosome dynamics, and recoding.