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Enzyme Protein. 1994-1995;48(2):61-80.

Translational control of eukaryotic gene expression. Role of the guanine nucleotide exchange factor and chain initiation factor-2.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, USA.


In mammalian cells, the guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF or eIF-2B) is a key regulator of polypeptide chain initiation. The exchange of GDP bound to chain initiation factor 2 (eIF-2) for GTP by GEF is a rate limiting step in protein synthesis. The multisubunit characteristics of GEF suggest that this protein is composed of several distinct structural and functional domains, and is regulated by allosteric means and by phosphorylation. The activity of GEF may be regulated indirectly by the phosphorylation state of the smallest subunit of eIF-2 (alpha-subunit). On the other hand, phosphorylation of the largest subunit of GEF (82-kD subunit) by casein kinase (CK) I or II stimulates GDP/GTP exchange. GEF contains NADPH which is required for structural integrity of the protein. Upon stimulation of cells by insulin and growth factors, allosteric activation of GEF by sugar phosphates and other effector molecules may also play an important role in the regulation of polypeptide chain initiation. In this article, recent information about structure-function relationship of eIF-2 and GEF in nucleotide exchange and the regulatory mechanisms that influence the rate of polypeptide chain initiation under various physiological and pathological conditions are presented.

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