Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Molecular Biology and Genetics

First Advisor

Andrei Ivanov


The integrity and barrier properties of intestinal epithelium are determined by specialized adhesive structures known as intercellular junctions; composed of adherens junctions (AJs), tight junctions (TJs) and focal adhesions that mediate cell-cell and cell matrix interactions, respectively. These two types of epithelial cell adhesions regulate each other during disruption and restitution of the epithelial barrier. Inflammatory cytokines such as interferon gamma (IFNγ) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) are elevated during intestinal inflammation. The most notable effects of IFNγ and TNFα on intestinal epithelial homeostasis involve disruption of apical junctions and attenuation of cell migration. Although molecular mechanisms underlying these effects remain poorly understood, expressional downregulation of different adhesion proteins may play a major role in the cytokine-dependent disruption of the intestinal epithelial barriers. This thesis is based on the hypothesis that inhibition of the protein translation initiation machinery promotes the disruption of the intestinal epithelial barrier and attenuates epithelial restitution during mucosal inflammation. This study was focused on two eukaryotic translation initiation factors, eIF4G1 and eIF4G2, which play essential roles in the regulation of cap-dependent protein translation. Expression of both translation initiation factors was dramatically downregulated in model intestinal epithelial cell monolayers treated with IFNγ and TNFα in parallel to cytokine-induced disruption of the epithelial barrier. siRNA or shRNA-mediated downregulation of either eIF4G1, or eIF4G2 increased permeability of well-differentiated SK-CO15 intestinal epithelial cell monolayers and decreased expression of different adherens junction and tight junction proteins. Furthermore depletion of these translation initiating factors inhibits different modes of migration (wound healing and transfilter migration) of stem-cell like and well-differentiated intestinal epithelial cells. These findings suggest that eukaryotic translation initiation factors of the eIF4G family play unique roles in regulating integrity and restitution of the intestinal epithelial barrier. Downregulation of these translation initiating factors may mediate disruption of the intestinal epithelial barriers during mucosal inflammation.


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