Eukaryotic Initiation Factor 4a3 Is a Selenium-Regulated RNA-Binding Protein that Selectively Inhibits Selenocysteine Incorporation

Michael E. Budiman, Jodi L. Bubenik, Angela C. Miniard, Lisa M. Middleton, Carri A. Gerber, Ayla Cash, Donna M. Driscoll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

86 Scopus citations


The synthesis of selenoproteins requires the translational recoding of the UGA stop codon as selenocysteine. During selenium deficiency, there is a hierarchy of selenoprotein expression, with certain selenoproteins synthesized at the expense of others. The mechanism by which the limiting selenocysteine incorporation machinery is preferentially utilized to maintain the expression of essential selenoproteins has not been elucidated. Here we demonstrate that eukaryotic initiation factor 4a3 (eIF4a3) is involved in the translational control of a subset of selenoproteins. The interaction of eIF4a3 with the selenoprotein mRNA prevents the binding of SECIS binding protein 2, which is required for selenocysteine insertion, thereby inhibiting the synthesis of the selenoprotein. Furthermore, the expression of eIF4a3 is regulated in response to selenium. Based on knockdown and overexpression studies, eIF4a3 is necessary and sufficient to mediate selective translational repression in cells. Our results support a model in which eIF4a3 links selenium status with differential selenoprotein expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-489
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Cell
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 28 2009
Externally publishedYes



  • RNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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