Ambient protein levels are under coordinated control of transcription, mRNA translation, and degradation. Whereas transcription and degradation mechanisms have been studied in depth in renal science, the role of mRNA translation, the process by which peptide synthesis occurs according to the genetic code that is present in the mRNA, has not received much attention. mRNA translation occurs in three phases: Initiation, elongation, and termination. Each phase is controlled by unique eukaryotic factors. In the initiation phase, mRNA and ribosomal subunits are brought together. During the elongation phase, amino acids are added to the nascent peptide chain in accordance with codon sequences in the mRNA. During the termination phase, the fully synthesized peptide is released from the ribosome for posttranslational processing. Signaling pathways figure prominently in regulation of mRNA translation, particularly the phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase-Akt-mammalian target of rapamycin pathway, the AMP-activated protein kinase-tuberous sclerosis complex protein 1/tuberous sclerosis complex protein 2-Rheb pathway, and the extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 type mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathway; there is significant cross-talk among these pathways. Regulation by mRNA translation is suggested when changes in mRNA and protein levels do not correlate and in the setting of rapid protein synthesis. Ongoing work suggests an important role for mRNA translation in compensatory renal growth, hypertrophy and extracellular matrix synthesis in diabetic nephropathy, growth factor synthesis by kidney cells, and glomerulonephritis. Considering that mRNA translation plays an important role in cell growth, development, malignancy, apoptosis, and response to stress, its study should provide novel insights in renal physiology and pathology.
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