Remodeling of the pioneer translation initiation complex involves translation and the karyopherin importin beta.
Mammalian mRNAs lose and acquire proteins throughout their life span while undergoing processing, transport, translation, and decay. How translation affects messenger RNA (mRNA)-protein interactions is largely unknown. The pioneer round of translation uses newly synthesized mRNA that is bound by cap-binding protein 80 (CBP80)-CBP20 (also known as the cap-binding complex [CBC]) at the cap, poly(A)-binding protein N1 (PABPN1) and PABPC1 at the poly(A) tail, and, provided biogenesis involves pre-mRNA splicing, exon junction complexes (EJCs) at exon-exon junctions. Subsequent rounds of translation engage mRNA that is bound by eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) at the cap and PABPC1 at the poly(A) tail, but that lacks detectable EJCs and PABPN1. Using the level of intracellular iron to regulate the translation of specific mRNAs, we show that translation promotes not only removal of EJC constituents, including the eIF4AIII anchor, but also replacement of PABPN1 by PABPC1. Remarkably, translation does not affect replacement of CBC by eIF4E. Instead, replacement of CBC by eIF4E is promoted by importin beta (IMPbeta): Inhibiting the binding of IMPbeta to the complex of CBC-IMPalpha at an mRNA cap using the IMPalpha IBB (IMPbeta-binding) domain or a RAN variant increases the amount of CBC-bound mRNA and decreases the amount of eIF4E-bound mRNA. Our studies uncover a previously unappreciated role for IMPbeta and a novel paradigm for how newly synthesized messenger ribonucleoproteins (mRNPs) are matured.