Protein segments with a high concentration of positively charged amino acid residues are often used in reporter constructs designed to activate ribosomal mRNA/protein decay pathways, such as those involving nonstop mRNA decay (NSD), no-go mRNA decay (NGD) and the ribosome quality control (RQC) complex. It has been proposed that the electrostatic interaction of the positively charged nascent peptide with the negatively charged ribosomal exit tunnel leads to translation arrest. When stalled long enough, the translation process is terminated with the degradation of the transcript and an incomplete protein. Although early experiments made a strong argument for this mechanism, other features associated with positively charged reporters, such as codon bias and mRNA and protein structure, have emerged as potent inducers of ribosome stalling. We carefully reviewed the published data on the protein and mRNA expression of artificial constructs with diverse compositions as assessed in different organisms. We concluded that, although polybasic sequences generally lead to lower translation efficiency, it appears that an aggravating factor, such as a nonoptimal codon composition, is necessary to cause translation termination events.

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