IRES interaction with translation initiation factors: Functional characterization of novel RNA contacts with eIF3, eIF4B, and eIF4GII

a1 Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa, CSIC-UAM, Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain


Translation initiation promoted by picornavirus internal ribosome entry site (IRES) elements is dependent on the association of specific IRES sequences to the initiation factor eIF4G. However the RNA determinants interacting with other components of the translational machinery are still unknown. In this study, we have identified novel RNA–protein interactions between the foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) IRES and three translation initiation factors. A doublet of 116/110 kDa that crosslinked to the FMDV IRES is a component of eIF3. We show here that domain 5 holds the preferential binding site for eIF3, although this complex initiation factor can establish multiple contacts with the IRES structure. We have also identified the phylogenetically conserved hairpin of domain 5 as the RNA motif responsible for eIF4B interaction. Mutation of this stem-loop structure abrogated eIF4B, but not eIF3, binding to the IRES. Remarkably, IRES mutants severely affected in their interaction with eIF4B showed a mild reduction in IRES activity when tested in the context of a bicistronic expression vector in transfected cells. Finally, we provide evidence of the interaction of eIF4GII with FMDV IRES, the RNA determinants for this interaction being shared with its functional homolog eIF4GI. The FMDV Lb protease generated a C-terminal fragment of eIF4GII that binds to the IRES as efficiently as the intact protein. Competition experiments showed that titration of eIF4B or p110/116 interaction with the FMDV IRES required a large excess of competitor relative to eIF4G, strongly suggesting that eIF4G-IRES interaction is a limiting factor to titrate the IRES. Comparative analysis of the activity of IRES mutants affected in domains 4 and 5 regarding their pattern of RNA–protein complex formation demonstrates that while binding of eIF4B with the FMDV IRES is dispensable, interaction of eIF4G is a central feature of the activity of this element.

(Received March 22 2001)
(Revised April 20 2001)
(Accepted May 25 2001)

Key Words: foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV); IRES; RNA-protein interaction; translation initiation factors (eIF).

c1 Reprint requests to: Encarnación Martínez-Salas, Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa, CSIC-UAM, Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain; e-mail: emartinez@cbm.uam.es.