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Keywords:

  • translation;
  • initiation;
  • mRNA;
  • review;
  • regulation

It is becoming increasingly apparent that translational control plays an important role in the regulation of gene expression in eukaryotic cells. Most of the known physiological effects on translation are exerted at the level of polypeptide chain initiation. Research on initiation of translation over the past five years has yielded much new information, which can be divided into three main areas: (a) structure and function of initiation factors (including identification by sequencing studies of consensus domains and motifs) and investigation of protein–protein and protein–RNA interactions during initiation; (b) physiological regulation of initiation factor activities and (c) identification of features in the 5′ and 3′ untranslated regions of messenger RNA molecules that regulate the selection of these mRNAs for translation. This review aims to assess recent progress in these three areas and to explore their interrelationships.