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A novel Bcr-Abl-mTOR-eIF4A axis regulates IRES-mediated translation of LEF-1.


Internal ribosome entry sites (IRESs) in cellular mRNAs direct expression of growth-promoting factors through an alternative translation mechanism that has yet to be fully defined. Lymphoid enhancer factor-1 (LEF-1), a Wnt-mediating transcription factor important for cell survival and metastasis in cancer, is produced via IRES-directed translation, and its mRNA is frequently upregulated in malignancies, including chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML). In this study, we determined that LEF1 expression is regulated by Bcr-Abl, the oncogenic protein that drives haematopoietic cell transformation to CML. We have previously shown that the LEF1 5' untranslated region recruits a complex of proteins to its IRES, including the translation initiation factor eIF4A. In this report, we use two small molecule inhibitors, PP242 (dual mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) kinase inhibitor) and hippuristanol (eIF4A inhibitor), to define IRES regulation via a Bcr-Abl-mTOR-eIF4A axis in CML cell lines and primary patient leukaemias. We found that LEF1 and other IRESs are uniquely sensitive to the activities of Bcr-Abl/mTOR. Most notably, we discovered that eIF4A, an RNA helicase, elicits potent non-canonical effects on the LEF1 IRES. Hippuristanol inhibition of eIF4A stalls translation of IRES mRNA and triggers dissociation from polyribosomes. We propose that a combination drug strategy which targets mTOR and IRES-driven translation disrupts key factors that contribute to growth and proliferation in CML.

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