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10 Bacteriophage RNA as Template for In Vitro Protein Synthesis

Mario R. Capecchi, Robert E. Webster


The RNA bacteriophages, for their size, have contributed as much to molecular biology as any other organism. This is probably most evident in the field of protein synthesis, where the RNA genome has been used as an example of a natural messenger RNA. Because of the ease of obtaining large amounts of this highly purified messenger RNA and the tremendous emphasis on the study of protein synthesis over the last 10 years, the number of publications related to coliphage RNA-directed protein synthesis is quite large. Studies using the phage RNA as a polycistronic messenger have given a great deal of insight into the mechanisms of the various steps in protein synthesis, the regulation of such translation events, and the mode of action of certain antibiotics. They have also helped to explain related phenomena such as polarity and suppression. Obviously, to cover completely all experiments on protein synthesis involving the phage RNA would be a monumental task. We therefore will limit ouselves to an attempt to acquaint the reader with the system, briefly reviewing the general properties of the phage RNA as messenger, its contributions to our present knowledge of the steps of initiation, elongation and termination of protein synthesis, and suggesting what we think are potential uses for the RNA in related systems. Such a treatment of the subject will leave out many authors, for which we apologize. However, we have tried to select the more comprehensive as well as the most recent references. We refer those readers wanting...

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