We have described two dsRNA viruses (L-A and L-BC) and two ssRNA replicons (20S RNA and 23S RNA) in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. M dsRNA is a satellite of L-A encoding the killer toxin. We discovered 7 chromosomal genes, SKI1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8, by their ability to prevent these replicons from causing pathogenicity to yeast cells. These four RNA replicons all make uncapped mRNAs and lack a 3' poly(A)structure. SKI1 is an exoribonuclease specific for uncapped mRNAs, while we showed that the SKI2, SKI3, SKI6, SKI7 and SKI8 gene products block the translation of non-poly(A) mRNAs. We showed that Ski2p is an RNA helicase, Ski6p has homology to a tRNA - processing RNAse, and Ski7p is similar to translation factor EF1alpha. We showed that mutations in 20 chromosomal genes resulting in loss of M dsRNA are deficient in 60S ribosomal subunits. These mutations are suppressed by ski mutations without restoration of the 60S subunit deficiency. We are now studying another yeast gene, called SLH1, that is homologous to SKI2. We find that a ski2 slh1 double mutant treats non-poly(A) mRNA the same as it treats poly(A)+ mRNA, with the same rate of translation and the same duration of translation (reflecting the same mRNA turnover rate). The ski2 slh1 double mutant grows at a normal rate at 30C, and is greatly derepressed for dsRNA virus copy number. No difference was detected in mRNA turnover rate in this double mutant. These results imply that the 3' poly(A) structure of mRNA is only needed for translation because of the cooperating Ski2p and Slh1p (and other proteins that work with them). The ribosomes and translation factors are fully able to use non-poly(A) mRNAs even in the presence of a full complement of poly(A)+ mRNAs competing for the translation apparatus. We are now studying the mechanism of the effects of these genes on translation. Our collaborator, Dr. John E. Johnson, has crystallized the L-A virus and is determining its structure by X-ray crystallography.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Intramural Research (Z01)
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U.S. National Inst Diabetes/Digst/Kidney
United States
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