Eukaryotic translation initiation factor eIF4A is a DEAD-box helicase that resolves secondary structure elements in the 5'-UTR of mRNAs during ribosome scanning. Its RNA-stimulated ATPase and ATP-dependent helicase activities are enhanced by other translation initiation factors, but the underlying mechanisms are unclear. DEAD-box proteins alternate between open and closed conformations during RNA unwinding. The transition to the closed conformation is linked to duplex destabilization. eIF4A is a special DEAD-box protein that can adopt three different conformations, an open state in the absence of ligands, a half-open state stabilized by the translation initiation factor eIF4G and a closed state in the presence of eIF4G and eIF4B. We show here that eIF4A alone does not measurably sample the closed conformation. The translation initiation factors eIF4B and eIF4G accelerate the eIF4A conformational cycle. eIF4G increases the rate of closing more than the opening rate, and eIF4B selectively increases the closing rate. Strikingly, the rate constants and the effect of eIF4B are different for different RNAs, and are related to the presence of single-stranded regions. Modulating the kinetics of the eIF4A conformational cycle is thus central for the multi-layered regulation of its activity, and for its role as a regulatory hub in translation initiation.
Harms, U., A. Z. Andreou, A. Gubaev, D. Klostermeier
Nucleic Acids Research