Indexed on: 27 Aug '05Published on: 27 Aug '05Published in: RNA (New York, N.Y.)
The lymphoid enhancer factor-1 LEF1 locus produces multiple mRNAs via alternative promoters. Full-length LEF-1 protein is produced via translation of an mRNA with a 1.2-kb, GC-rich 5'-untranslated region (UTR), whereas a truncated LEF-1 isoform is produced by an mRNA with a short, 60-nucleotide (nt) 5'-UTR. Full-length LEF-1 promotes cell growth via its interaction with the WNT signaling mediator beta-catenin. Truncated LEF-1 lacks the beta-catenin binding domain and opposes WNT signaling as a competitive inhibitor for WNT response elements. In this study we tested the hypothesis that the long, GC-rich 5'-UTR within the full-length LEF1 mRNA contains an internal ribosome entry site (IRES). Using a dicistronic vector in transient DNA transfections, we show that the LEF1 5'-UTR mediates cap-independent translation. Additional experiments involving a promoter-less dicistronic vector, Northern blot analysis, and transient transfections of dicistronic mRNAs into cultured mammalian cells compromised for cap-dependent translation demonstrate that the 5'-UTR of full-length LEF1 mRNA contains a bona fide IRES. Deletion analysis of the 5'-UTR shows that maximal IRES activity requires the majority of the 5'-UTR, consistent with the notion that cellular IRESs require multiple modules for efficient activity. This study demonstrates that full-length LEF1 mRNA has evolved to utilize a cap-independent mechanism for translation of full-length LEF-1, whereas the truncated isoform is produced via the canonical cap-dependent ribosome scanning mechanism.