Cowpea mosaic virus M RNA is translated in vitro as well as in vivo into two C-coterminal polyproteins of Mr 105K and 95K. Initiation of translation of the 95K protein gene occurs at an AUG codon at position 512 of M RNA, 351 nucleotides downstream of the initiation codon of the 105K protein gene at position 161. By employing an in vitro transcription and translation system it was determined that this 351 nucleotide sequence has the capacity to direct ribosomes to initiate translation at a downstream start codon. This effect is independent of the position of this sequence in an mRNA. Furthermore, evidence has been obtained that scanning ribosomes can bypass the AUG at position 161. Thus, both leaky scanning and internal entry are mechanisms for the initiation of translation of the 95K protein gene
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