The PITSLRE kinases belong to the large family of cyclin-dependent protein kinases. Their function has been related to cell-cycle regulation, splicing and apoptosis. We have previously shown that the open reading frame of the p110PITSLRE transcript contains an IRES (internal ribosome entry site) that allows the expression of a smaller p58PITSLRE isoform during the G2/M stage of the cell cycle. In the present study we investigated further the role of cis- and trans-acting factors in the regulation of the PITSLRE IRES. Progressive deletion analysis showed that both a purine-rich sequence and a Unr (upstream of N-ras) consensus binding site are essential for PITSLRE IRES activity. In line with these observations, we demonstrate that the PITSLRE IRES interacts with the Unr protein, which is more prominently expressed at the G2/M stage of the cell cycle. We also show that phosphorylation of the α-subunit of the canonical initiation factor eIF-2 is increased at G2/M. Interestingly, phosphorylation of eIF-2α has a permissive effect on the efficiency of both the PITSLRE IRES and the ornithine decarboxylase IRES, two cell cycle-dependent IRESs, in mediating internal initiation of translation, whereas this was not observed with the viral EMCV (encephalomyocarditis virus) and HRV (human rhinovirus) IRESs.

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