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RNA. 1998 Dec;4(12):1500-13.

Cap-independent polysomal association of natural mRNAs encoding c-myc, BiP, and eIF4G conferred by internal ribosome entry sites.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, California 94305, USA.


Sequence elements that can function as internal ribosome entry sites (IRES) have been identified in 5' noncoding regions of certain uncapped viral and capped cellular mRNA molecules. However, it has remained largely unknown whether IRES elements are functional when located in their natural capped mRNAs. Therefore, the polysomal association and translation of several IRES-containing cellular mRNAs was tested under conditions that severely inhibited cap-dependent translation, that is, after infection with poliovirus. It was found that several known IRES-containing mRNAs, such as BiP and c-myc, were both associated with the translation apparatus and translated in infected cells when cap-dependent translation of most host-cell mRNAs was blocked, indicating that the IRES elements were functional in their natural mRNAs. Curiously, the mRNAs that encode eukaryotic initiation factor 4GI (eIF4GI) and 4GII (eIF4GII), two proteins with high identity and similar functions in the initiation of cap-dependent translation, were both associated with polysomes in infected cells. The 5'-end sequences of eIF4GI mRNA were isolated from a cDNA expression library and shown to function as an internal ribosome entry site when placed into a dicistronic mRNA. These findings suggest that eIF4G proteins can be synthesized at times when 5' cap-dependent mRNA translation is blocked, supporting the notion that eIF4G proteins are needed in both 5' cap-independent and 5' cap-dependent translational initiation mechanisms.

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