The small (40S) subunit of eukaryotic ribosomes is believed to bind initially at the capped 5'-end of messenger RNA and then migrate, stopping at the first AUG codon in a favorable context for initiating translation. The first-AUG rule is not absolute, but there are rules for breaking the rule. Some anomalous observations that seemed to contradict the scanning mechanism now appear to be artifacts. A few genuine anomalies remain unexplained.

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