Autoregulatory systems controlling translation factor expression: Thermostat-like control of translational accuracy

Russell Betney, Eric de Silva, Jawahar Krishnan, Ian Stansfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


In both prokaryotes and eukaryotes, the expression of a large number of genes is controlled by negative feedback, in some cases operating at the level of translation of the mRNA transcript. Of particular interest are those cases where the proteins concerned have cell-wide function in recognizing a particular codon or RNA sequence. Examples include the bacterial translation termination release factor RF2, initiation factor IF3, and eukaryote poly(A) binding protein. The regulatory loops that control their synthesis establish a negative feedback control mechanism based upon that protein's RNA sequence recognition function in translation (for example, stop codon recognition) without compromising the accurate recognition of that codon, or sequence during general, cell-wide translation. Here, the bacterial release factor RF2 and initiation factor IF3 negative feedback loops are reviewed and compared with similar negative feedback loops that regulate the levels of the eukaryote release factor, eRF1, established artificially by mutation. The control properties of such negative feedback loops are discussed as well as their evolution. The role of negative feedback to control translation factor expression is considered in the context of a growing body of evidence that both IF3 and RF2 can play a role in stimulating stalled ribosomes to abandon translation in response to amino acid starvation. Here, we make the case that negative feedback control serves primarily to limit the overexpression of these translation factors, preventing the loss of fitness resulting from an unregulated increase in the frequency of ribosome drop-off.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-663
Number of pages9
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2010


  • release factor RF2
  • initiation factor IF3
  • negative feedback
  • eukaryote release factor eRF1
  • ribosomal frameshifting


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