Eukaryotic release factors (eRFs) history

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


In the present review, we describe the history of the identification of the eukaryotic translation termination factors eRF1 and eRF3. As in the case of several proteins involved in general and essential processes in all cells (e.g., DNA replication, gene expression regulation...) the strategies and methodologies used to identify these release factors were first established in prokaryotes. The genetic investigations in Saccharomyces cerevisiae have made a major contribution in the field. A large amount of data have been produced, from which it was concluded that the SUP45 and SUP35 genes were controlling translation termination but were also involved in other functions important for the cell organization and the cell cycle accomplishment. This does not seem to be restricted to yeast but is also probably the case in eukaryotes in general. The biochemical studies of the proteins encoded by the higher eukaryote homologs of SUP45 and SUP35 were efficient and permitted the identification of eRF1 as being the key protein in the termination process, eRF3 having a stimulating role. Around 25 years were needed after the identification of sup45 and sup35 mutants for the characterization of their gene products as eRF1 and eRF3, respectively. It also has to be pointed out that if the results came first from bacteria, the identification of RF3 and eRF3 was made practically at the same time. Moreover, eRF1 was the first crystal structure obtained for a class-1 release factor, the bacterial RF2 structure came later. The goal is now to understand at the molecular level the roles of both eRF1 and eRF3 in addition to their translation termination functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-209
Number of pages15
JournalBiology of the Cell
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2003

Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


  • eRF1
  • eRF3
  • Omnipotent suppression
  • SUP35
  • SUP45
  • Translation termination

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