Biophysical studies of eIF4E cap-binding protein: Recognition of mRNA 5′ cap structure and synthetic fragments of eIF4G and 4E-BP1 proteins

Anna Niedzwiecka, Joseph Marcotrigiano, Janusz Stepinski, Marzena Jankowska-Anyszka, Aleksandra Wyslouch-Cieszynska, Michal Dadlez, Anne Claude Gingras, Pawel Mak, Edward Darzynkiewicz, Nahum Sonenberg, Stephen K. Burley, Ryszard Stolarski

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318 Scopus citations


mRNA 5′-cap recognition by the eukaryotic translation initiation factor eIF4E has been exhaustively characterized with the aid of a novel fluorometric, time-synchronized titration method, and X-ray crystallography. The association constant values of recombinant eIF4E for 20 different cap analogues cover six orders of magnitude; with the highest affinity observed for m7GTP (∼1.1 × 108 M-1). The affinity of the cap analogues for eIF4E correlates with their ability to inhibit in vitro translation. The association constants yield contributions of non-covalent interactions involving single structural elements of the cap to the free energy of binding, giving a reliable starting point to rational drug design. The free energy of 7-methylguanine stacking and hydrogen bonding (-4.9 kcal/ mol) is separate from the energies of phosphate chain interactions (-3.0, -1.9, -0.9 kcal/mol for α, β, γ phosphates, respectively), supporting two-step mechanism of the binding. The negatively charged phosphate groups of the cap act as a molecular anchor, enabling further formation of the intermolecular contacts within the cap-binding slot. Stabilization of the stacked Trp102/m7G/Trp56 configuration is a precondition to form three hydrogen bonds with Glu103 and Trp102. Electrostaticly steered eIF4E-cap association is accompanied by additional hydration of the complex by approximately 65 water molecules, and by ionic equilibria shift. Temperature dependence reveals the enthalpy-driven and entropy-opposed character of the m7GTP-eIF4E binding, which results from dominant charge-related interactions (ΔH° = -17.8 kcal/ mol, ΔS° = -23.6 cal/ mol K). For recruitment of synthetic eIF4GI, eIF4GII, and 4E-BP1 peptides to eIF4E, all the association constants were ∼107 M-1, in decreasing order: eIF4GI > 4E-BP1 > eIF4GII > 4E-BP1 (P-Ser65) ∼4E-BP1(P-Ser65/Thr70). Phosphorylation of 4E-BP1 at Ser65 and Thr70 is insufficient to prevent binding to eIF4E. Enhancement of the eIF4E affinity for cap occurs after binding to eIF4G peptides.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-635
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of molecular biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


  • Fluorescence
  • Structure-activity relationship
  • Translation
  • eIF4E
  • mRNA 5′ cap


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