Translation elongation factor 1beta (EF-1beta) is a member of the family of guanine nucleotide exchange factors, proteins whose activities are important for the regulation of G proteins critical to many cellular processes. EF-1beta is a highly conserved protein that catalyzes the exchange of bound GDP for GTP on EF-1alpha, a required step to ensure continued protein synthesis. In this work, we demonstrate that the highly conserved C-terminal region of Saccharomyces cerevisiae EF-1beta is sufficient for normal cell growth. This region of yeast and metazoan EF-1beta and the metazoan EF-1beta-like protein EF-1delta is highly conserved. Human EF-1beta, but not human EF-1delta, is functional in place of yeast EF-1beta, even though both EF-1beta and EF-1delta have previously been shown to have guanine nucleotide exchange activity in vitro. Based on the sequence and functional homology, mutagenesis of two C-terminal residues identical in all EF-1beta protein sequences was performed, resulting in mutants with growth defects and sensitivity to translation inhibitors. These mutants also enhance translational fidelity at nonsense codons, which correlates with a reduction in total protein synthesis. These results indicate the critical function of EF-1beta in regulating EF-1alpha activity, cell growth, translation rates, and translational fidelity.
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