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PLoS One. 2009;4(3):e5070. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005070. Epub 2009 Mar 31.

A variant mimicking hyperphosphorylated 4E-BP inhibits protein synthesis in a sea urchin cell-free, cap-dependent translation system.

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UPMC Univ Paris 06, UMR 7150, Equipe Traduction Cycle Cellulaire et Développement, Station Biologique de Roscoff, Roscoff, France.



4E-BP is a translational inhibitor that binds to eIF4E to repress cap-dependent translation initiation. This critical protein:protein interaction is regulated by the phosphorylation of 4E-BP. Hypophosphorylated 4E-BP binds to eIF4E and inhibits cap-dependent translation, whereas hyperphosphorylated forms do not. While three 4E-BP proteins exist in mammals, only one gene encoding for 4E-BP is present in the sea urchin genome. The protein product has a highly conserved core domain containing the eIF4E-binding domain motif (YxxxxLPhi) and four of the regulatory phosphorylation sites.


Using a sea urchin cell-free cap-dependent translation system prepared from fertilized eggs, we provide the first direct evidence that the sea urchin 4E-BP inhibits cap-dependent translation. We show here that a sea urchin 4E-BP variant, mimicking phosphorylation on four core residues required to abrogate binding to eIF4E, surprisingly maintains physical association to eIF4E and inhibits protein synthesis.


Here, we examine the involvement of the evolutionarily conserved core domain and phosphorylation sites of sea urchin 4E-BP in the regulation of eIF4E-binding. These studies primarily demonstrate the conserved activity of the 4E-BP translational repressor and the importance of the eIF4E-binding domain in sea urchin. We also show that a variant mimicking hyperphosphorylation of the four regulatory phosphorylation sites common to sea urchin and human 4E-BP is not sufficient for release from eIF4E and translation promotion. Therefore, our results suggest that there are additional mechanisms to that of phosphorylation at the four critical sites of 4E-BP that are required to disrupt binding to eIF4E.

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