The study of translational termination in yeast has been approached largely through the identification of a range of mutations which either increase or decrease the efficiency of stop-codon recognition. Subsequent cloning of the genes encoding these factors has identified a number of proteins important for maintaining the fidelity of termination, including at least three ribosomal proteins (S5, S13, S28). Other non-ribosomal proteins have been identified by mutations which produce gross termination-accuracy defects, namely the SUP35 and SUP45 gene products which have closely-related higher eukaryote homologues (GST1-h and SUP45-h respectively) and which can complement the corresponding defective yeast proteins, implying that the yeast ribosome may be a good model for the termination apparatus existing in higher translation systems.
While the yeast mitochondrial release factor has been cloned (Pel et al. 1992), the corresponding cytosolic RF has not yet been identified. It seems likely, however, that the identification of the gene encoding eRF could be achieved using a multicopy antisuppressor screen such as that employed to clone the E. coli prfA gene (Weiss et al. 1984). Identification of the yeast eRF and an investigation of its interaction with other components of the yeast translational machinery will no doubt further the definition of the translational termination process.
While a large number of mutations have been isolated in which the efficiency of termination-codon recognition is impaired, it seems probable that a proportion of mutations within this class will comprise those where the accuracy of ‘A’ site codon-anticodon interaction is compromised: such defects would also have an effect on termination-codon suppression, allowing mis- or non-cognate tRNAs to bind stop-condons, causing nonsense suppression. The remainder of mutatoons affecting termination fidelity should represent mutations in genes coding for components of the termination apparatus, including the eRF: these mutations reduce the efficiency of termination, allowing nonsense suppression by low-efficiency natural suppressor tRNAs. Elucidation of the mechanism of termination in yeast will require discrimination between these two classes of mutations, thus allowing definition of termination-specific gene products.