Triple decoding of hepatitis C virus RNA by programmed translational frameshifting

Jinah Choi, Zhenming Xu, Jing hsiung Ou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Ribosomes can be programmed to shift from one reading frame to another during translation. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) uses such a mechanism to produce F protein from the -2/+1 reading frame. We now report that the HCV frameshift signal can mediate the synthesis of the core protein of the zero frame, the F protein of the -2/+1 frame, and a 1.5-kDa protein of the -1/+2 frame. This triple decoding function does not require sequences flanking the frameshift signal and is apparently independent of membranes and the synthesis of the HCV polyprotein. Two consensus -1 frameshift sequences in the HCV type 1 frameshift signal facilitate ribosomal frameshifts into both overlapping reading frames. A sequence which is located immediately downstream of the frameshift signal and has the potential to form a double stem-loop structure can significantly enhance translational frameshifting in the presence of the peptidyl-transferase inhibitor puromycin. Based on these results, a model is proposed to explain the triple decoding activities of the HCV ribosomal frameshift signal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1489-1497
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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