1. College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Jilin University, Changchun, China;
2. Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, San Diego CA, USA;
3. College of Basic Medical Sciences, Jilin University, Changchun, China;
4. College of Life Science and Bioengineering, Beijing University of Technology, Beijing, China;
5. China-Japan Union Hospital, Jilin University, Changchun, China;
6. MRC Cancer Unit, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Internal ribosome entry sites (IRES elements) have attracted interest in cancer gene therapy because they can be used in the design of gene transfer vectors that provide bicistronic co-expression of two transgene products under the control of a single promoter. Unlike cellular translation of most mRNAs, a process that requires a post-translational 5' modification of the mRNA known as the cap structure, IRES-mediated translation is independent of the cap structure. The cellular conditions that may intervene to modulate IRES-mediated, cap-independent versus cap-dependent translation, however, remain poorly understood, although they could be critical to the choice of gene transfer vectors. Here we have compared the effects of the p14ARF (Alternate Reading Frame) tumor suppressor, a translational suppressor frequently overexpressed in cancer, on cap-dependent translation versus cap-independent translation from the EMCV viral IRES often used in bicistronic gene transfer vectors. We find that ectopic overexpression of p14ARF suppresses endogenous and ectopic cap-dependent protein translation, consistent with other studies. However, p14ARF has little or no effect on transgene translation initiated within an IRES element. This suggests that transgenes placed downstream of an IRES element will retain efficient translation of their gene products in the presence of high levels of ectopic or endogenous p14ARF, a finding that could be particularly relevant to therapeutic gene therapy strategies for cancer.
Keywords: p14ARF, Internal ribosome entry site (IRES), cap-dependent, protein translation.