Viral and cellular mRNA-specific activators harness PABP and eIF4G to promote translation initiation downstream of cap binding

Richard W. P. Smith, Ross C. Anderson, Osmany Larralde, Joel W. S. Smith, Barbara Gorgoni, William A. Richardson, Poonam Malik, Sheila V. Graham, Nicola K. Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Regulation of mRNA translation is a major control point for gene expression and is critical for life. Of central importance is the complex between cap-bound eukaryotic initiation factor 4E (eIF4E), eIF4G, and poly(A) tail-binding protein (PABP) that circularizes mRNAs, promoting translation and stability. This complex is often targeted to regulate overall translation rates, and also by mRNA-specific translational repressors. However, the mechanisms of mRNA-specific translational activation by RNA-binding proteins remain poorly understood. Here, we address this deficit, focusing on a herpes simplex virus-1 protein, ICP27. We reveal a direct interaction with PABP that is sufficient to promote PABP recruitment and necessary for ICP27-mediated activation. PABP binds several translation factors but is primarily considered to activate translation initiation as part of the PABP–eIF4G–eIF4E complex that stimulates the initial cap-binding step. Importantly, we find that ICP27-PABP forms a complex with, and requires the activity of, eIF4G. Surprisingly, ICP27–PABP–eIF4G complexes act independently of the effects of PABP-eIF4G on cap binding to promote small ribosomal subunit recruitment. Moreover, we find that a cellular mRNA-specific regulator, Deleted in Azoospermia-like (Dazl), also employs the PABP–eIF4G interaction in a similar manner. We propose a mechanism whereby diverse RNA-binding proteins directly recruit PABP, in a non–poly(A) tail-dependent manner, to stimulate the small subunit recruitment step. This strategy may be particularly relevant to biological conditions associated with hypoadenylated mRNAs (e.g., germ cells/neurons) and/or limiting cytoplasmic PABP (e.g., viral infection, cell stress). This mechanism adds significant insight into our knowledge of mRNA-specific translational activation and the function of the PABP–eIF4G complex in translation initiation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6310-6315
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)
Issue number24
Early online date30 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2017


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