Conservation and Variability of the AUG Initiation Codon Context in Eukaryotes

Greco Hernández, Vincent G. Osnaya, Xochitl Pérez-Martínez

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

    2 Scopus citations


    Selection of the translation initiation site (TIS) is a crucial step during translation. In the 1980s Marylin Kozak performed key studies on vertebrate mRNAs to characterize the optimal TIS consensus sequence, the Kozak motif. Within this motif, conservation of nucleotides in crucial positions, namely a purine at −3 and a G at +4 (where the A of the AUG is numbered +1), is essential for TIS recognition. Ever since its characterization the Kozak motif has been regarded as the optimal sequence to initiate translation in all eukaryotes. We revisit here published in silico data on TIS consensus sequences, as well as experimental studies from diverse eukaryotic lineages, and propose that, while the −3A/G position is universally conserved, the remaining variability of the consensus sequences enables their classification as optimal, strong, and moderate TIS sequences.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1009-1021
    Number of pages13
    JournalTrends in Biochemical Sciences
    Issue number12
    StatePublished - Dec 2019


    • AUG context
    • Kozak motif
    • eIF1A
    • eIF2α
    • non-AUG start codons
    • translation initiation

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Biochemistry
    • Molecular Biology

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