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Acta Neuropathol. 1999 Nov;98(5):493-505.

Ultrastructural localization of phosphorylated eIF2alpha [eIF2alpha(P)] in rat dorsal hippocampus during reperfusion.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, 540 E. Canfield, Detroit, MI 48201, USA.


During post-ischemic brain reperfusion there is a substantial reduction of protein synthesis in selectively vulnerable neurons. Normal protein synthesis requires a functional translation initiation complex, a key element of which is eukaryotic initiation factor 2 (eIF2), which in a complex with GTP introduces the met-tRNA(i). Phosphorylation of Ser(51) on the alpha subunit of eIF2 [eIF2alpha(P)] generates a competitive inhibitor of eIF2B, thereby preventing the replenishment of GTP onto eIF2, thus blocking translation initiation. It has been shown that the conditional expression of an eIF2alpha mutant (Asp substituted for Ser(51)) imitating the negative charge of Ser(51) (P) induces apoptosis. During the first 10 min of post-ischemic reperfusion, there is an approximately 20-fold increase in eIF2alpha(P) seen in the cytoplasm of CA1 hippocampal neurons, and, by 1 h, there is also accumulation of eIF2alpha(P) in the nucleus. We utilized post-embedding electron microscopical immunogold methods to examine the localization of eIF2alpha(P) during reperfusion. Immunogold particles (10 nm) were concentrated chiefly along the rough endoplasmic reticulum and in association with the membranes of the nuclear envelope in CA1 neurons. Aggregations of gold particles in the nucleus were concentrated: (1) within and around the nucleolus, (2) associated to strands of heterochromatin, and (3) along putative nuclear filaments. The presence of eIF2alpha(P) in the nucleolus probably reflects its association with nascent ribosomal subunits. The beta-subunit of eIF2 has a zinc finger and polylysine blocks analogous to those on other proteins that affect transcription. The association of eIF2alpha(P) with chromatin may have important implications for transcription.

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