Thymidylate Synthase as a Translational Regulator of Cellular Gene Expression

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2002 Jul 18;1587(2-3):174-82. doi: 10.1016/s0925-4439(02)00080-7.


Studies from our laboratory have shown that the folate-dependent enzyme, thymidylate synthase (TS), functions as an RNA binding protein. There is evidence that TS, in addition to interacting with its own TS mRNA, forms a ribonucleoprotein complex with a number of other cellular mRNAs, including those corresponding to the p53 tumor suppressor gene and the myc family of transcription factors. Using both in vitro and in vivo model systems, we have demonstrated that the functional consequence of binding of TS protein to its own cognate mRNA, as well as binding of TS to the p53 mRNA, is translational repression. Herein, we review current work on the translational autoregulatory control of TS expression and discuss the molecular elements that are required for the TS protein-TS mRNA interaction. TS may play a critical role in regulating the cell cycle and the process of apoptosis through its regulatory effects on expression of p53 and perhaps other cell cycle related proteins. Finally, the ability of TS to function as a translational regulator may have important consequences with regard to the development of cellular resistance to various anticancer drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Genes, p53
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Thymidylate Synthase / genetics*
  • Thymidylate Synthase / metabolism*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Thymidylate Synthase