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Transcriptome-wide characterization of the eIF4A signature highlights plasticity in translation regulation.

Abstract

Background

Protein synthesis is tightly regulated and alterations to translation are characteristic of many cancers.Translation regulation is largely exerted at initiation through the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4 F (eIF4F). eIF4F is pivotal for oncogenic signaling as it integrates mitogenic signals to amplify production of pro-growth and pro-survival factors. Convergence of these signals on eIF4F positions this factor as a gatekeeper of malignant fate. While the oncogenic properties of eIF4F have been characterized, genome-wide evaluation of eIF4F translational output is incomplete yet critical for developing novel translation-targeted therapies.

Results

To understand the impact of eIF4F on malignancy, we utilized a genome-wide ribosome profiling approach to identify eIF4F-driven mRNAs in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. Using Silvestrol, a selective eIF4A inhibitor, we identify 284 genes that rely on eIF4A for efficient translation. Our screen confirmed several known eIF4F-dependent genes and identified many unrecognized targets of translation regulation. We show that 5′UTR complexity determines Silvestrol-sensitivity and altering 5′UTR structure modifies translational output. We highlight physiological implications of eIF4A inhibition, providing mechanistic insight into eIF4F pro-oncogenic activity.

Conclusions

Here we describe the transcriptome-wide consequence of eIF4A inhibition in malignant cells, define mRNA features that confer eIF4A dependence, and provide genetic support for Silvestrol’s anti-oncogenic properties. Importantly, our results show that eIF4A inhibition alters translation of an mRNA subset distinct from those affected by mTOR-mediated eIF4E inhibition. These results have significant implications for therapeutically targeting translation and underscore a dynamic role for eIF4F in remodeling the proteome toward malignancy.

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