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Mol Biol Cell. 2010 Jul 1;21(13):2202-16. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E09-11-0962. Epub 2010 May 5.

Fusel alcohols regulate translation initiation by inhibiting eIF2B to reduce ternary complex in a mechanism that may involve altering the integrity and dynamics of the eIF2B body.

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  • 1Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PT, United Kingdom.


Recycling of eIF2-GDP to the GTP-bound form constitutes a core essential, regulated step in eukaryotic translation. This reaction is mediated by eIF2B, a heteropentameric factor with important links to human disease. eIF2 in the GTP-bound form binds to methionyl initiator tRNA to form a ternary complex, and the levels of this ternary complex can be a critical determinant of the rate of protein synthesis. Here we show that eIF2B serves as the target for translation inhibition by various fusel alcohols in yeast. Fusel alcohols are endpoint metabolites from amino acid catabolism, which signal nitrogen scarcity. We show that the inhibition of eIF2B leads to reduced ternary complex levels and that different eIF2B subunit mutants alter fusel alcohol sensitivity. A DNA tiling array strategy was developed that overcame difficulties in the identification of these mutants where the phenotypic distinctions were too subtle for classical complementation cloning. Fusel alcohols also lead to eIF2alpha dephosphorylation in a Sit4p-dependent manner. In yeast, eIF2B occupies a large cytoplasmic body where guanine nucleotide exchange on eIF2 can occur and be regulated. Fusel alcohols impact on both the movement and dynamics of this 2B body. Overall, these results confirm that the guanine nucleotide exchange factor, eIF2B, is targeted by fusel alcohols. Moreover, they highlight a potential connection between the movement or integrity of the 2B body and eIF2B regulation.

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