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J Cell Biol. 2000 Jul 10;150(1):275-81.

Fibroblast growth factor 2 internal ribosome entry site (IRES) activity ex vivo and in transgenic mice reveals a stringent tissue-specific regulation.

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  • 1Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale U397, Endocrinologie et Communication Cellulaire, Institut Fédératif de Recherche Louis Bugnard, C.H.U. Rangueil, 31403 Toulouse Cedex 04, France.


Fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF-2) is a powerful mitogen involved in proliferation, differentiation, and survival of various cells including neurons. FGF-2 expression is translationally regulated; in particular, the FGF-2 mRNA contains an internal ribosome entry site (IRES) allowing cap-independent translation. Here, we have analyzed FGF-2 IRES tissue specificity ex vivo and in vivo by using a dual luciferase bicistronic vector. This IRES was active in most transiently transfected human and nonhuman cell types, with a higher activity in p53 -/- osteosarcoma and neuroblastoma cell lines. Transgenic mice were generated using bicistronic transgenes with FGF-2 IRES or encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) IRES. Measurements of luciferase activity revealed high FGF-2 IRES activity in 11-d-old embryos (E11) but not in the placenta; activity was high in the heart and brain of E16. FGF-2 IRES activity was low in most organs of the adult, but exceptionally high in the brain. Such spatiotemporal variations were not observed with the EMCV IRES. These data, demonstrating the strong tissue specificity of a mammalian IRES in vivo, suggest a pivotal role of translational IRES- dependent activation of FGF-2 expression during embryogenesis and in adult brain. FGF-2 IRES could constitute, thus, a powerful tool for gene transfer in the central nervous system.

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