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Physiol Genomics. 2009 Aug 7;38(3):328-41. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.90396.2008. Epub 2009 Jun 9.

eIF2alpha kinases GCN2 and PERK modulate transcription and translation of distinct sets of mRNAs in mouse liver.

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  • 1Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, USA.


In eukaryotes, selective derepression of mRNA translation through altered utilization of upstream open reading frames (uORF) or internal ribosomal entry sites (IRES) regulatory motifs following exposure to stress is regulated at the initiation stage through the increased phosphorylation of eukaryotic initiation factor 2 on its alpha-subunit (eIF2alpha). While there is only one known eIF2alpha kinase in yeast, general control nonderepressible 2 (GCN2), mammals have evolved to express at least four: GCN2, heme-regulated inhibitor kinase (HRI), double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase (PKR), and PKR-like endoplasmic reticulum-resident kinase (PERK). So far, the main known distinction among these four kinases is their activation in response to different acute stressors. In the present study, we used the in situ perfused mouse liver model and hybridization array analyses to assess the general translational response to stress regulated by two of these kinases, GCN2 and PERK, and to differentiate between the downstream effects of activating GCN2 versus PERK. The resulting data showed that at least 2.5% of mouse liver mRNAs are subject to derepressed translation following stress. In addition, the data demonstrated that eIF2alpha kinases GCN2 and PERK differentially regulate mRNA transcription and translation, which in the latter case suggests that increased eIF2alpha phosphorylation is not sufficient for derepression of translation. These findings open an avenue for more focused future research toward groups of mRNAs that code for the early cellular stress response proteins.

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