Disruption of the RBM38-eIF4E complex with a synthetic peptide PEP8 increases p53 expression

Christopher A. Lucchesi, Jin Zhang, Buyong Ma, Mingyi Chen, Xinbin Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Rbm38 is a p53 target and an RNA-binding protein known to suppress p53 translation by preventing eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) from binding to p53 mRNA. In this study, we show that synthetic peptides corresponding to the binding interface between Rbm38 and eIF4E, including an 8 amino acid peptide (Pep8) derived from Rbm38, are effective in relieving Rbm38-mediated repression of p53. Molecular simulations showed that Ser-6 in Pep8 forms a hydrogen bond with Asp-202 in eIF4E. Substitution of Ser-6 with Lys, but not with Asp, enhanced the ability of Pep8 to inhibit the Rbm38-eIF4E complex. Importantly, Pep8 alone or together with a low dose of doxorubicin potently induced p53 expression and suppressed colony and tumor sphere formation and xenograft tumors in Rbm38- and p53-dependent manners. Together, we conclude that modulating the Rbm38-eIF4E complex may be explored as a therapeutic strategy for cancers that carry wild-type p53. Significance: Disruption of the Rbm38-eIF4E complex via synthetic peptides induces wild-type p53 expression, suppresses tumor growth and progression, and may serve as a novel cancer therapeutic strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)807-818
Number of pages12
JournalCancer research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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