The association of eucaryotic translation initiation factor eIF4G with the cap-binding protein eIF4E establishes a critical link between the mRNA and the ribosome during translation initiation. This association requires a conserved seven amino acid peptide within eIF4G that binds to eIF4E. Here we report that a 98-amino acid fragment of S. cerevisiae eIF4G1 that contains this eIF4E binding peptide undergoes an unfolded to folded transition upon binding to eIF4E. The folding of the eIF4G1 domain was evidenced by the eIF4E-dependent changes in its protease sensitivity and (1)H-(15)N HSQC NMR spectrum. Analysis of a series of charge-to-alanine mutations throughout the essential 55.4-kDa core of yeast eIF4G1 also revealed substitutions within this 98-amino acid region that led to reduced eIF4E binding in vivo and in vitro. These data suggest that the association of yeast eIF4E with eIF4G1 leads to the formation of a structured domain within eIF4G1 that could serve as a specific site for interactions with other components of the translational apparatus. They also suggest that the stability of the native eIF4E-eIF4G complex is determined by amino acid residues outside of the conserved seven-residue consensus sequence.
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