The regulation of protein synthesis ultimately determines most cell fate decisions. Cells undergoing any form of differentiation control both the rate of global synthesis and the types of new proteins made. The role of mRNA translational control is becoming increasingly apparent in gametogenesis, embryogenesis and oncogenesis. Intriguingly, early embryonic development displays many functional parallels to oncogenesis, among them are mRNA translational control and cell proliferation. Like a cleaving embryo, cancer cells upregulate protein synthesis and cell cycle progression relative to normal somatic cells. The focus of our studies is the protein synthesis apparatus itself (i.e. translation initiation factors), which controls the utilization of mRNAs in cells undergoing rapid growth, differentiation or even cell death (apoptosis). Translation initiation factors 4E and 4G (eIF4E and eIF4G) alter the mode of translation initiation in a way that discriminates for or against particular mRNAs. Disruption of this complex causes preferential translation of mRNAs that promote apoptosis. Protein synthesis mechanism therefore represents a novel point of intervention for cancer therapies and developmental defects. Using biochemical methods, microinjection, transgenesis, genetics and genomics in the model organism, C. elegans, we are attempting to artificially modulate eIF4E and eIF4G isoforms in vivo as a means to inhibit cell proliferation or alter differentiation pathways.