Programmed −1 ribosomal frameshifting is an alternate mechanism of translation used by coronavirus to synthesize replication proteins encoded by two overlapping open reading frames. For some coronaviruses, the mRNA cis-acting stimulatory structures involved in this process have been characterized, but their precise contribution to ribosomal frameshifting is not completely understood. Recently, a novel coronavirus was identified as the causative agent of the severe acute respiratory syndrome. This review describes the mRNA motifs involved in programmed −1 ribosomal frameshifting in this virus.

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