• 4E-BP1;
  • growth retardation;
  • Phgdh;
  • serine deficiency;
  • translation initiation

Targeted disruption in mice of the gene encoding d-3-phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase (Phgdh) results in embryonic lethality associated with a striking reduction in free l-serine and growth retardation including severe brain malformation. We previously observed a severe impairment in neurogenesis of the central nervous system of Phgdh knockout (KO) embryos and a reduction in the protein content of their brains. Although these findings suggest that l-serine deficiency links attenuation of mRNA translation to severe developmental malformation of the central nervous system, the underlying key molecular event remains unexplored. Here we demonstrate that mRNA of Eif4ebp1 encoding eukaryotic initiation factor 4 binding protein 1 and its protein, 4E-BP1, are markedly induced in the central nervous system of Phgdh KO embryos, whereas a modest induction is observed in the liver. The increase in 4E-BP1 was associated with a decrease in the cap initiation complex in the brain, as shown by lower levels of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4G bound to eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) and increased eIF4E interaction with 4E-BP1 based on 7-methyl-GTP chromatography. eIF4E protein and polysomes were also diminished in Phgdh KO embryos. Induction of Eif4ebp1 mRNA and of 4E-BP1 was reproduced in mouse embryonic fibroblasts established from Phgdh KO embryos under the condition of l-serine deprivation. Induction of Eif4ebp1 mRNA was suppressed only when l-serine was supplemented in the culture medium, indicating that reduced l-serine availability regulates the induction of Eif4ebp1/4E-BP1. These data suggest that elevated levels of 4E-BP1 may be involved in a mechanism to arrest brain development in Phgdh KO embryos.