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Nucleic Acids Res. 2015 Sep 30;43(17):8392-404. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkv827. Epub 2015 Aug 11.

The impact of the phosphomimetic eIF2αS/D on global translation, reinitiation and the integrated stress response is attenuated in N2a cells.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Medicine, University of Geneva Medical School, Switzerland.
Department of Microbiology and Molecular Medicine, University of Geneva Medical School, Switzerland Institute of Genetics and Genomics of Geneva (iGE3), University of Geneva, Switzerland


A plethora of stresses trigger a rapid downregulation of protein synthesis. However, a fraction of mRNAs continue to be recruited onto polysomes and their protein products play a key role in deciding cell fate. These transcripts are characterized by the presence of uORFs within their 5' TL coupling protein expression to reinitiation. The translational brake arises due to the activation of a family of kinases targeting the α subunit of the trimolecular eIF2(αβγ) initiation factor. Phosphorylation of eIF2αSer51 inhibits ternary complex regeneration reducing the pool of 43S ribosomes. It is popular to mimic this event, and hence the integrated stress response (ISR), by the expression of the phosphomimetic eIF2αS51D. However, we report that whereas the ISR is reproduced by eIF2αS51D expression in human HEK293T cells this is not the case in N2a mouse neuroblastoma cells. With regards to translational downregulation, this arises due to the failure of the phosphomimetic protein to assemble an eIF2 complex with endogenous eIF2β/γ. This can be compensated for by the transient co-expression of all three subunits. Curiously, these conditions do not modulate reinitiation and consequently fail to trigger the ISR. This is the first demonstration that the inhibitory and reinitiation functions of eIF2αS/D can be separated.

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