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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 327963, 11 pages
Review Article

Positive mRNA Translational Control in Germ Cells by Initiation Factor Selectivity

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27834, USA

Received 18 May 2015; Accepted 22 July 2015

Academic Editor: Nikolai V. Ravin

Copyright © 2015 Andrew J. Friday and Brett D. Keiper. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Ultimately, the production of new proteins in undetermined cells pushes them to new fates. Other proteins hold a stem cell in a mode of self-renewal. In germ cells, these decision-making proteins are produced largely from translational control of preexisting mRNAs. To date, all of the regulation has been attributed to RNA binding proteins (RBPs) that repress mRNAs in many models of germ cell development (Drosophila, mouse, C. elegans, and Xenopus). In this review, we focus on the selective, positive function of translation initiation factors eIF4E and eIF4G, which recruit mRNAs to ribosomes upon derepression. Evidence now shows that the two events are not separate but rather are coordinated through composite complexes of repressors and germ cell isoforms of eIF4 factors. Strikingly, the initiation factor isoforms are themselves mRNA selective. The mRNP complexes of translation factors and RBPs are built on specific populations of mRNAs to prime them for subsequent translation initiation. Simple rearrangement of the partners causes a dormant mRNP to become synthetically active in germ cells when and where they are required to support gametogenesis.