Insulin-like growth factor II (IGF-II) is a fetal growth factor, which belongs to the family of insulin-like peptides. During fetal life, the IGF-II gene generates three mRNAs with different 5′ untranslated regions (UTRs), but identical coding regions and 3′ UTRs. We have shown previously that IGF-II leader 3 mRNA translation is regulated by a rapamycin-sensitive pathway, whereas leader 4 mRNA is constitutively translated, but so far the significance of leader 2 mRNA has been unclear. Here, we show that leader 2 mRNA is translated efficiently in an eIF4E-independent manner. In a bicistronic vector system, the 411 nt leader 2 was capable of internal initiation via a phylogenetically conserved internal ribosome entry site (IRES), located in the 3′ half of the leader. The IRES is composed of an approx. 120 nt ribosome recruitment element, followed by an 80 nt spacer region, which is scanned by the ribosomal pre-initiation complex. Since cap-dependent translation is down-regulated during cell division, leader 2 might facilitate a continuous IGF-II production in rapidly dividing cells during development.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.