BACKGROUND: The oncogene PTI-1 was originally isolated from a prostate cancer cell line by its capability to transform rat fibroblasts. The PTI-1 mRNA has a very eccentric structure as the 5'UTR is similar to prokaryotic 23S rRNA, while the major open reading frame and the 3'UTR corresponds to a part of the mRNA encoding human translation elongation factor eEF1A1. Thus, the largest open reading frame encodes a truncated version of eEF1A1 lacking the first 67 amino acids, while having three unique N-terminal amino acids. Previously, the UTRs were shown to be a prerequisite for the transforming capacity of the PTI-1 transcript. In this study, we have investigated the possible role of the UTRs in regulating protein expression and localization.
METHODS: The protein expression profiles of a number of PTI-1 mRNA variants were studied in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, the oncogenic potentials of the same PTI-1 mRNAs were determined by monitoring the capacities of stably transfected cells expressing these mRNAs to induce tumors in nude mice and form foci in cell culture. Finally, the cellular localizations of PTI-1 proteins expressed from these mRNAs were determined by fluorescence microscopy.
RESULTS: The PTI-1 mRNA was found to give rise to multiple protein products that potentially originate from translation initiation at downstream, inframe AUGs within the major open reading frame. At least one of the truncated protein variants was also found to be oncogenic. However, the UTRs did not appear to influence the amount and identities of these truncated protein products. In contrast, our localization studies showed that the UTRs of the transcript promote a nuclear localization of the encoded protein(s).
CONCLUSIONS: Translation of the PTI-1 mRNA results in multiple protein products of which (a) truncated variant(s) may play a predominant role during cellular transformation. The PTI-1 UTRs did not seem to play a role in translation regulation, but appeared to contribute to a nuclear localization of the PTI-1 protein(s). This indicates that the PTI-1 protein(s) exert(s) its/their oncogenic function inside the nucleus.