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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Mar 12;116(11):4946-4954. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1813352116. Epub 2019 Feb 25.

Activation of GCN2 by the ribosomal P-stalk.

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Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge CB2 0QH, United Kingdom.
Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge CB2 0QH, United Kingdom


Cells dynamically adjust their protein translation profile to maintain homeostasis in changing environments. During nutrient stress, the kinase general control nonderepressible 2 (GCN2) phosphorylates translation initiation factor eIF2α, initiating the integrated stress response (ISR). To examine the mechanism of GCN2 activation, we have reconstituted this process in vitro, using purified components. We find that recombinant human GCN2 is potently stimulated by ribosomes and, to a lesser extent, by tRNA. Hydrogen/deuterium exchange-mass spectrometry (HDX-MS) mapped GCN2-ribosome interactions to domain II of the uL10 subunit of the ribosomal P-stalk. Using recombinant, purified P-stalk, we showed that this domain of uL10 is the principal component of binding to GCN2; however, the conserved 14-residue C-terminal tails (CTTs) in the P1 and P2 P-stalk proteins are also essential for GCN2 activation. The HisRS-like and kinase domains of GCN2 show conformational changes upon binding recombinant P-stalk complex. Given that the ribosomal P-stalk stimulates the GTPase activity of elongation factors during translation, we propose that the P-stalk could link GCN2 activation to translational stress, leading to initiation of ISR.


GCN2; HDX-MS; P-stalk; ribosome stalling; uL10/P1/P2

Free PMC Article

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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