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Mol Cell. 1998 Sep;2(3):383-8.

IRP-1 binding to ferritin mRNA prevents the recruitment of the small ribosomal subunit by the cap-binding complex eIF4F.

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Gene Expression Programme, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg Germany.


Binding of iron regulatory proteins (IRPs) to IREs located in proximity to the cap structure of ferritin H- and L-chain mRNAs blocks ferritin synthesis by preventing the recruitment of the small ribosomal subunit to the mRNA. We have devised a novel procedure to examine the assembly of translation initiation factors (eIFs) on regulated mRNAs. Unexpectedly, we find that the cap binding complex eIF4F (comprising eIF4E, eIF4G, and eIF4A) assembles even when IRP-1 is bound to the cap-proximal IRE. This assembly is futile, because bridging interactions between eIF4F and the small ribosomal subunit cannot be established in the presence of IRP-1. Our findings provide insight into translational control by an mRNA binding protein at the level of translation initiation factors and uncover a key regulatory step in iron homeostasis.

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