The Section on Protein Biosynthesis, headed by Thomas Dever, is characterizing the structure and function of several translation initiation factors and the molecular principles of kinase-substrate recognition by the stress-responsive eIF2a kinases. The group recently identified eIF2 contacts with the ribosome and revealed an unexpected structure of the eIF2–Met-tRNAiMet ternary complex. The group also reported that binding of the kinase domain of the eIF2a kinase PKR induces a conformational change in its substrate, eIF2a, to expose the phosphorylation site and thus restrict translational regulation via eIF2a phosphorylation to the family of eIF2a kinases. Members of the group also demonstrated that the hypusine-containing protein eIF5A promotes translation elongation.
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