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RNA. 2009 Oct;15(10):1814-21. doi: 10.1261/rna.1684009. Epub 2009 Aug 6.

Metazoan stress granule assembly is mediated by P-eIF2alpha-dependent and -independent mechanisms.

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  • 1Department of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Stress granules (SGs) are cytoplasmic bodies wherein translationally silenced mRNAs are recruited for triage in response to environmental stress. We report that Drosophila cells form SGs in response to arsenite and heat shock. Drosophila SGs, like mammalian SGs, are distinct from but adjacent to processing bodies (PBs, sites of mRNA silencing and decay), require polysome disassembly, and are in dynamic equilibrium with polysomes. We further examine the role of the two Drosophila eIF2alpha kinases, PEK and GCN2, in regulating SG formation in response to heat and arsenite stress. While arsenite-induced SGs are dependent upon eIF2alpha phosphorylation, primarily via PEK, heat-induced SGs are phospho-eIF2alpha-independent. In contrast, heat-induced SGs require eIF2alpha phosphorylation in mammalian cells, as non-phosphorylatable eIF2alpha Ser51Ala mutant murine embryonic fibroblasts do not form SGs even after severe heat shock. These results suggest that mammals evolved alternative mechanisms for dealing with thermal stress.

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