LeishIF4E2 is a cap-binding protein that plays a role in Leishmania cell cycle progression

Nofar Baron, Rajaram Purushotham, Durgeshwar Pullaiahgari, Priyanka Bose, Raz Zarivach, Michal Shapira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Leishmania encode six paralogs of the cap-binding protein eIF4E and five eIF4G candidates, forming unique complexes. Two cap-binding proteins, LeishIF4E1 and LeishIF4E2, do not bind any identified LeishIF4Gs, thus their roles are intriguing. Here, we combine structural prediction, proteomic analysis, and interaction assays to shed light on LeishIF4E2 function. A nonconserved C-terminal extension was identified through structure prediction and sequence alignment. m7GTP-binding assays involving both recombinant and transgenic LeishIF4E2 with and without the C-terminal extension revealed that this extension functions as a regulatory gate, modulating the cap-binding activity of LeishIF4E2. The interactomes of the two LeishIF4E2 versions were investigated, highlighting the role of the C-terminal extension in binding to SLBP2. SLBP2 is known to interact with a stem-loop structure in the 3′ UTRs of histone mRNAs. Consistent with the predicted inhibitory effect of SLBP2 on histone expression in Xenopus laevis, a hemizygous deletion mutant of LeishIF4E2, exhibited an upregulation of several histones. We therefore propose that LeishIF4E2 is involved in histone expression, possibly through its interaction between SLBP2 and LeishIF4E2, thus affecting cell cycle progression. In addition, cell synchronization showed that LeishIF4E2 expression decreased during the S-phase, when histones are known to be synthesized. Previous studies in T. brucei also highlighted an association between TbEIF4E2 and SLBP2, and further reported on an interaction between TbIF4E2 and S-phase-abundant mRNAs. Our results show that overexpression of LeishIF4E2 correlates with upregulation of cell cycle and chromosome maintenance proteins. Along with its effect on histone expression, we propose that LeishIF4E2 is involved in cell cycle progression.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere23367
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2024


  • LeishIF4E2
  • Leishmania
  • cap-binding activity
  • histones
  • stem-loop-binding protein
  • translation initiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology


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