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Mol Cell Biol. 2000 Jan;20(2):496-506.

A novel form of DAP5 protein accumulates in apoptotic cells as a result of caspase cleavage and internal ribosome entry site-mediated translation.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Genetics, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel.


Death-associated protein 5 (DAP5) (also named p97 and NAT1) is a member of the translation initiation factor 4G (eIF4G) family that lacks the eIF4E binding site. It was previously implicated in apoptosis, based on the finding that a dominant negative fragment of the protein protected against cell death. Here we address its function and two distinct levels of regulation during apoptosis that affect the protein both at translational and posttranslational levels. DAP5 protein was found to be cleaved at a single caspase cleavage site at position 790, in response to activated Fas or p53, yielding a C-terminal truncated protein of 86 kDa that is capable of generating complexes with eIF4A and eIF3. Interestingly, while the overall translation rate in apoptotic cells was reduced by 60 to 70%, in accordance with the simultaneous degradation of the two major mediators of cap-dependent translation, eIF4GI and eIF4GII, the translation rate of DAP5 protein was selectively maintained. An internal ribosome entry site (IRES) element capable of directing the translation of a reporter gene when subcloned into a bicistronic vector was identified in the 5' untranslated region of DAP5 mRNA. While cap-dependent translation from this transfected vector was reduced during Fas-induced apoptosis, the translation via the DAP5 IRES was selectively maintained. Addition of recombinant DAP5/p97 or DAP5/p86 to cell-free systems enhanced preferentially the translation through the DAP5 IRES, whereas neutralization of the endogenous DAP5 in reticulocyte lysates by adding a dominant negative DAP5 fragment interfered with this translation. The DAP5/p86 apoptotic form was more potent than DAP5/p97 in these functional assays. Altogether, the data suggest that DAP5 is a caspase-activated translation factor which mediates cap-independent translation at least from its own IRES, thus generating a positive feedback loop responsible for the continuous translation of DAP5 during apoptosis.

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