The Translational Repressor 4E-BP1 Contributes to Diabetes-Induced Visual Dysfunction

Miller WP, Mihailescu ML, Yang C, Barber AJ, Kimball SR, Jefferson LS, Dennis MD. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2016 Mar;57(3):1327-37. doi: 10.1167/iovs.15-18719. PMID: 26998719


The translational repressor 4E-BP1 interacts with the mRNA cap-binding protein eIF4E and thereby promotes cap-independent translation of mRNAs encoding proteins that contribute to diabetic retinopathy. Interaction of 4E-BP1 with eIF4E is enhanced in the retina of diabetic rodents, at least in part, as a result of elevated 4E-BP1 protein expression. In the present study, we examined the role of 4E-BP1 in diabetes-induced visual dysfunction, as well as the mechanism whereby hyperglycemia promotes 4E-BP1 expression.

Nondiabetic and diabetic wild-type and 4E-BP1/2 knockout mice were evaluated for visual function using a virtual optomotor test (Optomotry). Retinas were harvested from nondiabetic and type 1 diabetic mice and analyzed for protein abundance and posttranslational modifications. Similar analyses were performed on cells in culture exposed to hyperglycemic conditions or an O-GlcNAcase inhibitor (Thiamet G [TMG]).

Diabetes-induced visual dysfunction was delayed in mice deficient of 4E-BP1/2 as compared to controls. 4E-BP1 protein expression was enhanced by hyperglycemia in the retina of diabetic rodents and by hyperglycemic conditions in retinal cells in culture. A similar elevation in 4E-BP1 expression was observed with TMG. The rate of 4E-BP1 degradation was significantly prolonged by either hyperglycemic conditions or TMG. A PEST motif in the C-terminus of 4E-BP1 regulated polyubiquitination, turnover, and binding of an E3 ubiquitin ligase complex containing CUL3.

The findings support a model whereby elevated 4E-BP1 expression observed in the retina of diabetic rodents is the result of O-GlcNAcylation of 4E-BP1 within its PEST motif.