Send to

Choose Destination
Elife. 2019 Nov 21;8. pii: e50149. doi: 10.7554/eLife.50149. [Epub ahead of print]

The ribosomal P-stalk couples amino acid starvation to GCN2 activation in mammalian cells.

Author information

Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Hinxton, United Kingdom.
Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, United Kingdom.


The eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2a (eIF2a) kinase GCN2 is activated by amino acid starvation to elicit a rectifying physiological program known as the Integrated Stress Response (ISR). A role for uncharged tRNAs as activating ligands of yeast GCN2 is supported experimentally. However, mouse GCN2 activation has recently been observed in circumstances associated with ribosome stalling with no global increase in uncharged tRNAs. We report on a mammalian CHO cell-based CRISPR-Cas9 mutagenesis screen for genes that contribute to ISR activation by amino acid starvation. Disruption of genes encoding components of the ribosome P-stalk, uL10 and P1, selectively attenuated GCN2-mediated ISR activation by amino acid starvation or interference with tRNA charging without affecting the endoplasmic reticulum unfolded protein stress-induced ISR, mediated by the related eIF2a kinase PERK. Wildtype ribosomes isolated from CHO cells, but not those with P-stalk lesions, stimulated GCN2-dependent eIF2a phosphorylation in vitro. These observations support a model whereby lack of a cognate charged tRNA exposes a latent capacity of the ribosome P-stalk to activate GCN2 in cells and help explain the emerging link between ribosome stalling and ISR activation.


cell biology; genetics; genomics

Free full text

Conflict of interest statement

HH, AO, FA, LP, AI, RW The other authors declare that no competing interests exist. DR David Ron, Reviewing editor, eLife.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for eLife Sciences Publications, Ltd
Loading ...
Support Center