Sequences in certain mRNAs program the ribosome to undergo a noncanonical translation event, translational frameshifting, translational hopping, or termination readthrough. These sequences are termed recoding sites, because they cause the ribosome to change temporarily its coding rules. Cis and trans-acting factors sensitively modulate the efficiency of recoding events. In an attempt to quantitate the effect of these factors we have developed a dual-reporter vector using the lacZ and luc genes to directly measure recoding efficiency. We were able to confirm the effect of several factors that modulate frameshift or readthrough efficiency at a variety of sites. Surprisingly, we were not able to confirm that the complex of factors termed the surveillance complex regulates translational frameshifting. This complex regulates degradation of nonsense codon-containing mRNAs and we confirm that it also affects the efficiency of nonsense suppression. Our data suggest that the surveillance complex is not a general regulator of translational accuracy, but that its role is closely tied to the translational termination and initiation processes.
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