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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Gene fusion and overlapping reading frames in the mammalian genes for 4E-BP3 and MASK.

4E-BP3 is a member of the eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF) 4F- binding protein family of translational repressors. eIF4E-binding proteins (4E-BPs) inhibit translation initiation by sequestering eIF4E, the cap-binding protein, from eIF4G thus preventing ribosome recruitment to the mRNA. Previous analysis of 4E-BP3 expression uncovered an 8.5-kb mRNA variant of unknown origin. To study this splice variant, we determined the structure of the genomic locus encoding human 4E-BP3 (EIF4EBP3). EIF4EBP3 is located on human chromosome 5q31.3 and comprises three exons (A, B, and C) and two introns. Exon B contains the region of the open reading frame responsible for eIF4E binding. GenBank searches revealed multiple expressed sequence tags originating from the alternative splicing of exon B with unidentified upstream exons. Further studies revealed that the 8.5-kb transcript arises from the fusion of EIF4EBP3 with the mammalian homologue of Drosophila MASK (multiple ankyrin repeats, single KH domain), which is crucial for photoreceptor differentiation, cell survival, and proliferation. Surprisingly, the open reading frame of the MASK-BP3 transcript is different from that of 4E-BP3, which indicates that exon B is translated using an alternative reading frame. A gene fusion similar to that of MASK and EIF4EBP3 has been reported only once in mammals for the UEV1-Kua transcript. The use of an alternative reading frame is also very rare, having been described for two loci, INK4a/ ARF and XLalphas/ALEX. The simultaneous exploitation of both mechanisms underscores the flexibility of mammalian genomes and has important implications for the functional analysis of 4E-BP3 and MASK. Interestingly, both eIF4E and MASK are downstream effectors of the Ras/ MAPK pathway, which provides a rationale for the MASK-BP3 fusion in mammals.[1]


  1. Gene fusion and overlapping reading frames in the mammalian genes for 4E-BP3 and MASK. Poulin, F., Brueschke, A., Sonenberg, N. J. Biol. Chem. (2003) [Pubmed]
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