, Volume 81, Issue 9, pp 536-548
Date: 01 Aug 2003

Not just for housekeeping: protein initiation and elongation factors in cell growth and tumorigenesis

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Abstract

Proteins provide the structural framework of a cell and perform the enzymatic activities sustaining DNA replication and energy production. The hormones and growth factors that facilitate organ-to-organ communication are proteins as are the receptors and signaling intermediaries that integrate extracellular stimuli to intracellular action. As such, eukaryotic cells devote tremendous effort and energy to protein synthesis. The enzymes involved in protein synthesis have traditionally been described as cellular housekeepers. This was meant to imply that while they were necessary for cell viability, they were not thought to have a causal role in activating cell differentiation or neoplastic development the way that a transcription factor or hormone receptor might. However, two protein translation factors, protein initiation factor eIF4E and protein elongation factor eEF1A2, have been identified as important human oncogenes. This review summarizes recent work showing that protein initiation and elongation factors have important regulatory roles in cell growth, apoptosis, and tumorigenesis.

Sarah Thornton
received her B.Sc. from the University of Guelph and is currently a graduate student in the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada.
Jonathan Lee
received his Ph.D. degree from the Department of Immunology from the University of Toronto. After postdoctoral work with Alan Bernstein at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute in Toronto, he moved to McMaster University. He is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine there and is a Career Scientist of Cancer Care Ontario. His laboratory studies the role of eEF1A2 in human cancer, and the control of mitosis by cyclin B1.