Reprogramming the Ribosome for Selenoprotein Expression: RNA Elements and Protein Factors

  • Marla J. Berry
  • Michael T. Howard
Part of the Nucleic Acids and Molecular Biology book series (NUCLEIC, volume 24)


Many of the benefits of the antioxidant selenium can be attributed to its incorporation into selenoenzymes as the 21st amino acid, selenocysteine. Selenocysteine incorporation occurs cotranslationally at UGA codons in a subset of messages in prokaryotes, eukaryotes, and archaea. UGA codons are recoded to specify selenocysteine, rather than termination, by the presence of specialized cis- and trans-acting factors. Here we discuss the mechanism of selenocysteine insertion, the factors which affect efficiency of incorporation, and regulation of mRNA levels. Although much remains to be learned about the multiple factors affecting gene and tissue-specific regulation of the selenoenzymes, significant advances in this regard have been made in understanding the role of selenium status, the expression and selective modification of specific trans-acting factors, and the cis-acting sequences associated with each selenoenzyme message.


Premature Termination Codon SECIS Element Selenoprotein Gene SelW mRNA Selenoprotein Synthesis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health to MJB and MTH.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, John A. Burns School of MedicineUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human GeneticsUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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