The effects of insulin and rapamycin on the phosphorylation of the translation regulator, initiation factor 4E-binding protein 1 (4E-BP1) have been studied in rat fat cells by following changes in the incorporation of 32P from [32P]Pi under steady-state conditions. Both unbound 4E-BP1 and 4E-BP1 bound to eukaryotic initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) were isolated from the cells and then digested with trypsin and other proteases; the radiolabelled phosphopeptides were then separated by two-dimensional thin- layer analysis and HPLC. The results provide confirmation of the conclusion of Fadden, Haystead and Lawrence [J. Biol. Chem. (1997) 272, 10240–10247] that insulin increases the phosphorylation of four sites that fit a Ser/Thr-Pro motif (Thr-36, Thr-45, Ser-64 and Thr-69) and that taken together these phosphorylations result in the dissociation of 4E-BP1 from eIF4E. The effects of insulin on the phosphorylation of these sites, and hence dissociation from eIF4E, are blocked by rapamycin. However, the present study also provides evidence that insulin increases the phosphorylation of 4E-BP1 bound to eIF4E on a further site (Ser-111) and that this is by a rapamycin-insensitive mechanism. Extraction of rat epididymal fat cells followed by chromatography on Mono-S and Superose 12 columns resulted in the separation of both an insulin-stimulated eIF4E kinase and an apparently novel kinase that is highly specific for Ser-111 of 4E-BP1. The 4E-BP1 kinase was activated more than 10-fold by incubation of the cells with insulin and was markedly more active towards 4E-BP1 bound to eIF4E than towards unbound 4E-BP1. The effects of insulin were blocked by wortmannin, but not by rapamycin. A 14-mer peptide based on the sequence surrounding Ser-111 of 4E-BP1 was also a substrate for the kinase, but peptide substrates for other known protein kinases were not. The kinase is quite distinct from casein kinase 2, which also phosphorylates Ser-111 of 4E-BP1. The possible importance of these kinases in the phosphorylation of 4E-BP1 in fat cells is discussed. It is suggested that the phosphorylation of Ser-111 might be a priming event that facilitates the subsequent phosphorylation of Thr-36, Thr-45, Ser-64 and Thr69 by a rapamycin-sensitive process that initiates the dissociation of 4E-BP1 from eIF4E and hence the formation of the eIF4F complex.

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