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Biofactors. 1993 May;4(2):95-104.

Hypusine: its post-translational formation in eukaryotic initiation factor 5A and its potential role in cellular regulation.

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Enzyme Chemistry Section, National Institute of Dental Research, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892.


The amino acid, hypusine [N epsilon-(4-amino-2-hydroxybutyl) lysine], a unique component of one cellular protein, eukaryotic translation initiation factor 5A (eIF-5A, old terminology eIF-4D), is formed post-translationally in two enzymatic steps: (i) transfer of the 4-aminobutyl moiety of the polyamine spermidine to the epsilon-amino group of a single specific lysine residue in the eIF-5A precursor protein to form an intermediate, deoxyhypusine, and (ii) subsequent hydroxylation in this 4-aminobutyl portion. Hypusine is produced soon after the translation of eIF-5A mRNA; the modification is essentially irreversible. Hypusine is found in all eukaryotes examined as well as in archaebacteria; it does not occur in eubacteria. The protein containing hypusine from each species displays a high degree of amino acid identity; the sequence of amino acids surrounding the hypusine residue is strictly conserved, suggesting the importance of the hypusine modification throughout evolution. Expression of one of the two yeast eIF-5A genes is required for survival and the lysine codon at the site of hypusine synthesis is vital for yeast growth. The precise cellular function of eIF-5A remains to be elucidated; however, eIF-5A stimulates methionyl-puromycin synthesis in a model assay for translation initiation and eIF-5A precursors containing lysine in place of hypusine are inactive in this assay. This provides evidence that the hypusine modification is needed for eIF-5A activity. In view of the important role of hypusine in eIF-5A and because of the narrow specificities of the enzymes involved in formation of this unusual amino acid, the hypusine biosynthetic steps offer promising targets for intervention in cellular proliferation. Spermidine analogs that are inhibitors of deoxyhypusine synthase in vitro also cause inhibition of hypusine formation in cells, together with a reduction in protein synthesis and in cell growth. In addition, certain metal chelating inhibitors of deoxyhypusine hydroxylase exhibit anti-proliferative effects by arresting mammalian cells at the G1/S boundary of the cell cycle. These results lay the foundation for the potential regulation of cellular events through the application of specific and potent inhibitors of hypusine biosynthesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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