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Am J Physiol. 1999 Nov;277(5 Pt 1):E805-14.

Chronic alcohol feeding impairs hepatic translation initiation by modulating eIF2 and eIF4E.

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  • 1Department of Cellular Physiology, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania 17033, USA.


The present study examined potential cellular mechanisms responsible for the inhibition of protein synthesis in liver after chronic alcohol consumption. Rats were maintained on an alcohol-containing diet for 14 wk; control animals were fed isocalorically. Hepatic ATP content was not different in alcohol-fed and control animals. No alcohol-induced reduction in total hepatic RNA content (an estimate of ribosomal RNA) was detected, suggesting that alcohol decreased translational efficiency. Alcohol feeding increased the proportion of 40S and 60S ribosomal subunits in the nonpolysome-associated fraction by 30%. To identify mechanisms responsible for the impairment in initiation, several eukaryotic initiation factors (eIF) were analyzed. Alcohol feeding decreased hepatic eIF2B activity by 36%. This reduction was associated with a 20% decrease in eIF2Bepsilon content and a 90% increase in eIF2alpha phosphorylation. Alcohol also dramatically influenced the distribution of eIF4E. Compared with pair-fed control values, alcohol feeding increased the amount of eIF4E present in the inactive 4E-binding protein 1 (4E-BP1). eIF4E complex by 80% and decreased binding of eIF4G to eIF4E by 70%. However, the phosphorylation status of 4E-BP1 and eIF4E was not altered by alcohol. Although the plasma concentrations of threonine, proline, and citrulline were mildly decreased, the circulating amount of total amino acids was not altered by alcohol feeding. In summary, these data suggest that chronic alcohol consumption impairs translation initiation in liver by altering eIF2B activity as well as eIF4F function via changes in eIF4E availability.

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