Translating from cancer to the brain: Regulation of protein synthesis by eIF4F

Ilona R. Kats, Eric Klann

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Formation of eukaryotic initiation factor 4F (eIF4F) is widely considered to be the rate-limiting step in cap-dependent translation initiation. Components of eIF4F are often up-regulated in various cancers, and much work has been done to elucidate the role of each of the translation initiation factors in cancer cell growth and survival. In fact, many of the basic mechanisms describing how eIF4F is assembled and how it functions to regulate translation initiation were first investigated in cancer cell lines. These same eIF4F translational control pathways also are relevant for neuronal signaling that underlies long-lasting synaptic plasticity and memory, and in neurological diseases where eIF4F and its upstream regulators are dysregulated. Although eIF4F is important in cancer and for brain function, there is not always a clear path to use the results of studies performed in cancer models to inform one of the roles that the same translation factors have in neuronal signaling. Issues arise when extrapolating from cell lines to tissue, and differences are likely to exist in how eIF4F and its upstream regulatory pathways are expressed in the diverse neuronal subtypes found in the brain. This review focuses on summarizing the role of eIF4F and its accessory proteins in cancer, and how this information has been utilized to investigate neuronal signaling, synaptic function, and animal behavior. Certain aspects of eIF4F regulation are consistent across cancer and neuroscience, whereas some results are more complicated to interpret, likely due to differences in the complexity of the brain, its billions of neurons and synapses, and its diverse cell types.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)332-342
Number of pages11
JournalLearning and Memory
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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