Water-Bridge Mediates Recognition of mRNA Cap in eIF4E.
Eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF)4E is overexpressed in many types of cancer such as breast, head and neck, and lung. A consequence of increased levels of eIF4E is the preferential translation of pro-tumorigenic proteins such as c-Myc, cyclin D1, and vascular endothelial growth factor. Inhibition of eIF4E is therefore a potential therapeutic target for human cancers. A novel peptide based on the eIF4E-binding peptide eIF4G1, where the α-helix was stabilized by the inclusion of α-helix inducers as shown by CD measurements, was synthesized. The helically stabilized peptide binds with an apparent K(d) of 9.43±2.57 nM, which is ∼15.7-fold more potent than the template peptide from which it is designed. The helically stabilized peptide showed significant biological activity at a concentration of 400 μM, unlike the naturally occurring eIFG1 peptide when measured in cell-based cap-dependent translational reporter and WST-1 (4-[3-(4-iodophenyl)-2-(4-nitrophenyl)-2H-5-tetrazolio]-1,3-benzene disulfonate) assays. Fusion of the template peptide and the stabilized peptide to the cell-penetrating peptide TAT produced more active but equally potent inhibitors of cap-dependent translation in cell lines. They also equally disrupted cell metabolism as measured in a WST-1 assay. Propidium iodide staining revealed that the TAT-fused, helically stabilized peptide caused more cell death than the TAT-fused eIF4G1 template peptide with substantial decreases in the G1 and G2 cell populations. Annexin-staining experiments also indicated that the TAT-fused eIF4G1 derivative peptides caused cell death by apoptosis. The results presented should offer further insight into peptidomimetics development for eIF4E.