eIF4E1b is a non-canonical eIF4E protecting maternal dormant mRNAs

EMBO Rep. 2024 Jan;25(1):404-427. doi: 10.1038/s44319-023-00006-4. Epub 2023 Dec 14.


Maternal mRNAs are essential for protein synthesis during oogenesis and early embryogenesis. To adapt translation to specific needs during development, maternal mRNAs are translationally repressed by shortening the polyA tails. While mRNA deadenylation is associated with decapping and degradation in somatic cells, maternal mRNAs with short polyA tails are stable. Here we report that the germline-specific eIF4E paralog, eIF4E1b, is essential for zebrafish oogenesis. eIF4E1b localizes to P-bodies in zebrafish embryos and binds to mRNAs with reported short or no polyA tails, including histone mRNAs. Loss of eIF4E1b results in reduced histone mRNA levels in early gonads, consistent with a role in mRNA storage. Using mouse and human eIF4E1Bs (in vitro) and zebrafish eIF4E1b (in vivo), we show that unlike canonical eIF4Es, eIF4E1b does not interact with eIF4G to initiate translation. Instead, eIF4E1b interacts with the translational repressor eIF4ENIF1, which is required for eIF4E1b localization to P-bodies. Our study is consistent with an important role of eIF4E1b in regulating mRNA dormancy and provides new insights into fundamental post-transcriptional regulatory principles governing early vertebrate development.

Keywords: Maternal mRNAs; P-bodies; Translational Regulation; Zebrafish; eIF4E1b.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4E / genetics
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4E / metabolism
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger, Stored* / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger, Stored* / metabolism
  • Zebrafish* / genetics
  • Zebrafish* / metabolism


  • RNA, Messenger, Stored
  • Histones
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4E
  • RNA, Messenger