Structural changes enable start codon recognition by the eukaryotic translation initiation complex

Tanweer Hussain, Jose L. Llácer, Israel S. Fernández, Antonio Munoz, Pilar Martin-Marcos, Christos G. Savva, Jon R. Lorsch, Alan G. Hinnebusch, V. Ramakrishnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


During eukaryotic translation initiation, initiator tRNA does not insert fully into the P decoding site on the 40S ribosomal subunit. This conformation (POUT) is compatible with scanning mRNA for the AUG start codon. Base pairing with AUG is thought to promote isomerization to a more stable conformation (PIN) that arrests scanning and promotes dissociation of eIF1 from the 40S subunit. Here, we present a cryoEM reconstruction of a yeast preinitiation complex at 4.0 Å resolution with initiator tRNA in the PIN state, prior to eIF1 release. The structure reveals stabilization of the codon-anticodon duplex by the N-terminal tail of eIF1A, changes in the structure of eIF1 likely instrumental in its subsequent release, and changes in the conformation of eIF2. The mRNA traverses the entire mRNA cleft and makes connections to the regulatory domain of eIF2α, eIF1A, and ribosomal elements that allow recognition of context nucleotides surrounding the AUG codon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-607
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 23 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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