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1.  eEF-2 Kinase Dictates Crosstalk between Autophagy and Apoptosis Induced by Akt Inhibition, thereby Modulating Cytotoxicity of Novel Akt Inhibitor MK-2206* 
Cancer research  2011;71(7):2654-2663.
Inhibition of the survival kinase Akt can trigger apoptosis but also has been found to activate autophagy, which may confound tumor attack. In this study, we investigated regulatory mechanisms through which apoptosis and autophagy were modulated in tumor cells subjected to Akt inhibition by MK-2206, the first allosteric small molecule inhibitor of Akt to enter clinical development. In human glioma cells, Akt inhibition by MK-2206 or siRNA-mediated attenuation strongly activated autophagy, whereas silencing of eukaryotic elongation factor-2 (eEF-2) kinase, a protein synthesis regulator, blunted this autophagic response. Suppression of MK-2206-induced autophagy by eEF-2 silencing was accompanied by a promotion of apoptotic cell death. Similarly, siRNA-mediated inhibition of eEF-2 kinase potentiated the efficacy of MK-2206 against glioma cells. Together, these results demonstrated that blunting autophagy and augmenting apoptosis by inhibition of eEF-2 kinase could modulate the sensitivity of glioma cells to Akt inhibition. Our findings suggest that targeting eEF-2 kinase may reinforce the anti-tumor efficacy of Akt inhibitors such as MK-2206.
PMCID: PMC3210447  PMID: 21307130
Elongation factor-2 kinase; Akt; Autophagy; Apoptosis; MK-2206; Glioblastoma
2.  Inhibition of eEF-2 kinase Sensitizes Human Glioma Cells to TRAIL and Down-regulates Bcl-xL Expression 
Elongation factor-2 kinase (eEF-2 kinase, also known as calmodulin-dependent protein kinase III), is a unique calcium/calmodulin-dependent enzyme that inhibits protein synthesis by phosphorylating and inactivating elongation factor-2 (eEF-2). We previously reported that expression/activity of eEF-2 kinase was up-regulated in several types of malignancies including Gliomas, and was associated with response of tumor cells to certain therapeutic stress. In the current study, we sought to determine whether eEF-2 kinase expression affected sensitivity of glioma cells to treatment with tumor the necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL), a targeted therapy able to induce apoptosis in cancer cells but causes no toxicity in most normal cells. We found that inhibition of eEF-2 kinase by RNA interference (RNAi) or by a pharmacological inhibitor (NH125) enhanced TRAIL-induced apoptosis in the human glioma cells, as evidenced by an increase in apoptosis in the tumor cells treated with eEF-2 kinase siRNA or the eEF-2 kinase inhibitor. We further demonstrated that sensitization of tumor cells to TRAIL was accompanied by a down-regulation of the anti-apoptotic protein, Bcl-xL, and that overexpression of Bcl-xL could abrogate the sensitizing effect of inhibiting eEF-2 kinase on TRAIL. The results of this study may help devise a new therapeutic strategy for enhancing the efficacy of TRAIL against malignant glioma by targeting eEF-2 kinase.
PMCID: PMC3210449  PMID: 21945617
eEF-2 kinase; TRAIL; Bcl-xl; apoptosis; glioblastoma
3.  Integrated regulation of autophagy and apoptosis by EEF2K controls cellular fate and modulates the efficacy of curcumin and velcade against tumor cells 
Autophagy  2013;9(2):208-219.
Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress induces both autophagy and apoptosis yet the molecular mechanisms and pathways underlying the regulation of these two cellular processes in cells undergoing ER stress remain less clear. We report here that eukaryotic elongation factor-2 kinase (EEF2K) is a critical controller of the ER stress-induced autophagy and apoptosis in tumor cells. DDIT4, a stress-induced protein, was required for transducing the signal for activation of EEF2K under ER stress. We further showed that phosphorylation of EEF2K at Ser398 was essential for induction of autophagy, while phosphorylation of the kinase at Ser366 and Ser78 exerted an inhibitory effect on autophagy. Suppression of the ER stress-activated autophagy via silencing of EEF2K aggravated ER stress and promoted apoptotic cell death in tumor cells. Moreover, inhibiting EEF2K by either RNAi or NH125, a small molecule inhibitor of the enzyme, rendered tumor cells more sensitive to curcumin and velcade, two anticancer agents that possess ER stress-inducing action. Our study indicated that the DDIT4-EEF2K pathway was essential for inducing autophagy and for determining the fate of tumor cells under ER stress, and suggested that inhibiting the EEF2K-mediated autophagy can deteriorate ER stress and lead to a greater apoptotic response, thereby potentiating the efficacy of the ER stress-inducing agents against cancer.
PMCID: PMC3552884  PMID: 23182879
EEF2K; ER stress; autophagy; apoptosis; tumor cells
4.  Silencing of Elongation Factor-2 Kinase Potentiates the Effect of 2-Deoxy-D-Glucose against Human Glioma Cells through Blunting of Autophagy* 
Cancer research  2009;69(6):2453-2460.
2-Deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG), a synthetic glucose analog that acts as a glycolytic inhibitor, is currently being evaluated in the clinic as an anticancer agent. In this study, we observed that treatment of human glioma cells with 2-DG activated autophagy, a highly conserved cellular response to metabolic stress and a catabolic process of self-digestion of intracellular organelles for energy utilization and survival in stressed cells. The induction of autophagy by 2-DG was associated with activation of elongation factor-2 kinase (eEF-2 kinase), a structurally and functionally unique enzyme that phosphorylates eEF-2 leading to loss of affinity of this elongation factor for the ribosome and to termination of protein elongation. We also showed that inhibition of eEF-2 kinase by RNA interference blunted the 2-DG-induced autophagic response, resulted in a greater reduction of cellular ATP contents, and increased the sensitivity of tumor cells to the cytotoxic effect of 2-DG. Furthermore, the blunted autophagy and enhanced 2-DG cytotoxicity were accompanied by augmentation of apoptosis in cells in which eEF-2 kinase expression was knocked down. The results of this study indicate that the energy stress and cytotoxicity caused by 2-DG can be accelerated by inhibition of eEF-2 kinase, and suggest that targeting eEF-2 kinase – regulated autophagic survival pathway may represent a novel approach to sensitizing cancer cells to glycolytic inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC2907516  PMID: 19244119
Elongation factor-2 kinase; 2-Deoxy-D-Glucose; Glycolysis; Autophagy; Protein synthesis; Glioblastoma
5.  Cytoprotective Effect of the Elongation Factor-2 Kinase-Mediated Autophagy in Breast Cancer Cells Subjected to Growth Factor Inhibition 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9715.
Autophagy is a highly conserved and regulated cellular process employed by living cells to degrade proteins and organelles as a response to metabolic stress. We have previously reported that eukaryotic elongation factor-2 kinase (eEF-2 kinase, also known as Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase III) can positively modulate autophagy and negatively regulate protein synthesis. The purpose of the current study was to determine the role of the eEF-2 kinase-regulated autophagy in the response of breast cancer cells to inhibitors of growth factor signaling.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We found that nutrient depletion or growth factor inhibitors activated autophagy in human breast cancer cells, and the increased activity of autophagy was associated with a decrease in cellular ATP and an increase in activities of AMP kinase and eEF-2 kinase. Silencing of eEF-2 kinase relieved the inhibition of protein synthesis, led to a greater reduction of cellular ATP, and blunted autophagic response. We further showed that suppression of eEF-2 kinase-regulated autophagy impeded cell growth in serum/nutrient-deprived cultures and handicapped cell survival, and enhanced the efficacy of the growth factor inhibitors such as trastuzumab, gefitinib, and lapatinib.
The results of this study provide new evidence that activation of eEF-2 kinase-mediated autophagy plays a protective role for cancer cells under metabolic stress conditions, and that targeting autophagic survival may represent a novel approach to enhancing the effectiveness of growth factor inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC2838786  PMID: 20300520
6.  Lopinavir Impairs Protein Synthesis and Induces eEF2 Phosphorylation via the Activation of AMP-Activated Protein Kinase 
Journal of cellular biochemistry  2008;105(3):814-823.
HIV anti-retroviral drugs decrease protein synthesis, although the underlying regulatory mechanisms of this process are not fully established. Therefore, we investigated the effects of the HIV protease inhibitor lopinavir (LPV) on protein metabolism. We also characterized the mechanisms that mediate the effects of this drug on elongation factor-2 (eEF2), a key component of the translational machinery. Treatment of C2C12 myocytes with LPV produced a dose-dependent inhibitory effect on protein synthesis. This effect was observed at 15 min and was maintained for at least 4 h. Mechanistically, LPV increased the phosphorylation of eEF2 and thereby decreased the activity of this protein. Increased phosphorylation of eEF2 was associated with increased activity of its upstream regulators AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and eEF2 kinase (eEF2K). Both AMPK and eEF2K directly phosphorylated eEF2 in an in vitro kinase assay suggesting two distinct paths lead to eEF2 phosphorylation. To verify this connection, myocytes were treated with the AMPK inhibitor compound C. Compound C blocked eEF2K and eEF2 phosphorylation, demonstrating that LPV affects eEF2 activity via an AMPK-eEF2K dependent pathway. In contrast, incubation of myocytes with rottlerin suppressed eEF2K, but not eEF2 phosphorylation, suggesting that eEF2 can be regulated independent of eEF2K. Finally, LPV did not affect PP2A activity when either eEF2 or peptide was used as the substrate. Collectively, these results indicate that LPV decreases protein synthesis, at least in part, via inhibition of eEF2. This appears regulated by AMPK which can act directly on eEF2 or indirectly via the action of eEF2K.
PMCID: PMC2574601  PMID: 18712774
AMPK; eEF2K; HIV antiretroviral drugs
7.  Targeted Silencing of Elongation Factor 2 Kinase Suppresses Growth and Sensitizes Tumors to Doxorubicin in an Orthotopic Model of Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41171.
Eukaryotic elongation factor 2 kinase (eEF-2K), through its phosphorylation of elongation factor 2 (eEF2), provides a mechanism by which cells can control the rate of the elongation phase of protein synthesis. The activity of eEF-2K is increased in rapidly proliferating malignant cells, is inhibited during mitosis, and may contribute to the promotion of autophagy in response to anti-cancer therapies. The purpose of this study was to examine the therapeutic potential of targeting eEF-2K in breast cancer tumors. Through the systemic administration of liposomal eEF-2K siRNA (twice a week, i.v. 150 µg/kg), the expression of eEF-2K was down-regulated in vivo in an orthotopic xenograft mouse model of a highly aggressive triple negative MDA-MB-231 tumor. This targeting resulted in a substantial decrease in eEF2 phosphorylation in the tumors, and led to the inhibition of tumor growth, the induction of apoptosis and the sensitization of tumors to the chemotherapy agent doxorubicin. eEF-2K down-modulation in vitro resulted in a decrease in the expression of c-Myc and cyclin D1 with a concomitant increase in the expression of p27Kip1. A decrease in the basal activity of c-Src (phospho-Tyr-416), focal adhesion kinase (phospho-Tyr-397), and Akt (phospho-Ser-473) was also detected following eEF-2K down-regulation in MDA-MB-231 cells, as determined by Western blotting. Where tested, similar results were seen in ER-positive MCF-7 cells. These effects were also accompanied by a decrease in the observed invasive phenotype of the MDA-MB-231 cells. These data support the notion that the disruption of eEF-2K expression in breast cancer cells results in the down-regulation of signaling pathways affecting growth, survival and resistance and has potential as a therapeutic approach for the treatment of breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3401164  PMID: 22911754
8.  Phosphorylation of elongation factor-2 kinase differentially regulates the enzyme’s stability under stress conditions 
Eukaryotic elongation factor-2 kinase (eEF-2K) is a Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent enzyme that negatively regulates protein synthesis. eEF-2K has been shown to be up-regulated in cancer, and to play an important role in cell survival through inhibition of protein synthesis. Post-translational modification of protein synthesis machinery is important for its regulation and could be critical for survival of cancer cells encountering stress. The purpose of our study was to examine the regulation of eEF-2K during stress with a focus on the roles of phosphorylation in determining the stability of eEF-2K. We found that stress conditions (nutrient deprivation and hypoxia) increase eEF-2K protein. mRNA levels are only transiently increased and shortly return to normal, while eEF-2K protein levels continue to increase after further exposure to stress. A seemingly paradoxical decrease in eEF-2K stability was found when glioma cells were subjected to stress despite increased protein expression. We further demonstrated that phosphorylation of eEF-2K differentially affects the enzyme’s turnover under both normal and stress conditions, as evidenced by the different half-lives of phosphorylation-defective mutants of eEF-2K. We further found that the eEF-2K site (Ser398) phosphorylated by AMPK is pivotal to the protein’s stability, as the half-life of S398A mutant increases to greater than 24 h under both normal and stress conditions. These data indicate that eEF-2K is regulated at multiple levels with phosphorylation playing a critical role in the enzyme’s turnover under stressful conditions. The complexity of eEF-2K phosphorylation highlights the intricacies of protein synthesis control during cellular stress.
PMCID: PMC3614095  PMID: 22749997
eEF-2K; Phosphorylation; Enzyme stability; Protein synthesis; Glioblastoma; AMPK
9.  Phosphorylation of Eukaryotic Elongation Factor 2 (eEF2) by Cyclin A–Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 2 Regulates Its Inhibition by eEF2 Kinase 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2013;33(3):596-604.
Protein synthesis is highly regulated via both initiation and elongation. One mechanism that inhibits elongation is phosphorylation of eukaryotic elongation factor 2 (eEF2) on threonine 56 (T56) by eEF2 kinase (eEF2K). T56 phosphorylation inactivates eEF2 and is the only known normal eEF2 functional modification. In contrast, eEF2K undergoes extensive regulatory phosphorylations that allow diverse pathways to impact elongation. We describe a new mode of eEF2 regulation and show that its phosphorylation by cyclin A–cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2) on a novel site, serine 595 (S595), directly regulates T56 phosphorylation by eEF2K. S595 phosphorylation varies during the cell cycle and is required for efficient T56 phosphorylation in vivo. Importantly, S595 phosphorylation by cyclin A-CDK2 directly stimulates eEF2 T56 phosphorylation by eEF2K in vitro, and we suggest that S595 phosphorylation facilitates T56 phosphorylation by recruiting eEF2K to eEF2. S595 phosphorylation is thus the first known eEF2 modification that regulates its inhibition by eEF2K and provides a novel mechanism linking the cell cycle machinery to translational control. Because all known eEF2 regulation is exerted via eEF2K, S595 phosphorylation may globally couple the cell cycle machinery to regulatory pathways that impact eEF2K activity.
PMCID: PMC3554216  PMID: 23184662
10.  The combination of tephrosin with 2-deoxy-D-glucose enhances the cytotoxicity via accelerating ATP depletion and blunting autophagy in human cancer cells 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2011;12(11):989-996.
2-Deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG), a synthetic glucose analog that acts as a glycolytic inhibitor, is currently under clinical evaluation for targeting tumor cells. Tephrosin (TSN), a plant rotenoid, is known as an anticancer agent. In this study, we describe that the addition of TSN to 2-DG enhanced the cytotoxic activity of 2-DG against various types of cancer cells by accelerating ATP depletion and blunting autophagy. TSN increased the sensitivity of cancer cells to the cytotoxic effect of 2-DG. The combination of TSN and 2-DG induced acceleration of intracellular ATP depletion and the drastic activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which resulted in the inactivation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway. Of particular interest, TSN suppressed 2-DG-induced autophagy, a cell survival process in response to nutrient deprivation. We also showed that TSN inhibited 2-DG-induced activation of elongation factor-2 kinase (eEF-2K), which has been known to regulate 2-DG-induced autophagy. Inhibition of eEF-2K by RNA interference blunted 2-DG-induced autophagy and increased the sensitivity of cancer cells to the cytotoxic effect of 2-DG. The addition of TSN to 2-DG, however, did not enhance the cytotoxic activity of 2-DG by knockdown of eEF-2K, suggesting that inhibition of eEF-2K by tephrsoin could be a critical role in the potentiating effect of TSN on the cytotoxicity of 2-DG. Furthermore, we showed that the blunted autophagy and enhanced cytotoxicity of 2-DG was accompanied by the augmentation of apoptosis. These results show that TSN may be valuable for augmenting the therapeutic efficacy of 2-DG.
PMCID: PMC3280917  PMID: 22123175
tephrosin; 2-deoxy-D-glucose; autophagy; apoptosis; elongation factor-2 kinase
11.  Investigating the Kinetic Mechanism of Inhibition of Elongation Factor 2 Kinase (eEF-2K) by NH125: Evidence for a Common in vitro Artifact 
Biochemistry  2012;51(10):2100-2112.
Evidence is emerging that elongation factor 2 kinase (eEF-2K) has potential as a target for anti-cancer therapy and possibly for the treatment of depression. Here the steady-state kinetic mechanism of eEF-2K is presented using a peptide substrate and is shown to conform to an ordered sequential mechanism with ATP binding first. Substrate inhibition by the peptide was observed and revealed to be competitive with ATP, explaining the observed ordered mechanism. Several small molecules are reported to inhibit eEF-2K activity with the most notable being the histidine kinase inhibitor NH125, which has been used in a number of studies to characterize eEF-2K activity in cells. While NH125 was previously reported to inhibit eEF-2K in vitro with an IC50 of 60 nM its mechanism of action was not established. Using the same kinetic assay the ability of an authentic sample of NH125 to inhibit eEF-2K was assessed over a range of substrate and inhibitor concentrations. A typical dose-response curve for the inhibition of eEF-2K by NH125 is best fit to an IC50 of 18 ± 0.25 µM and a Hill coefficient of 3.7 ± 0.14, suggesting that NH125 is a weak inhibitor of eEF-2K under the experimental conditions of a standard in vitro kinase assay. To test the possibility that NH125 is a potent inhibitor of eEF2 phosphorylation we assessed its ability to inhibit the phosphorylation of eEF2. Under standard kinase assay conditions NH125 exhibits similar weak ability to inhibit the phosphorylation of eEF2 by eEF-2K. Notably, the activity of NH125 is severely abrogated by the addition of 0.1 % triton to the kinase assay through a process that can be reversed upon dilution. These studies suggest that NH125 is as a non-specific colloidal aggregator in vitro, a notion further supported by the observation that NH125 inhibits other protein kinases, such as ERK2 and TRPM7 in a similar manner to eEF-2K. As NH125 is reported to inhibit eEF-2K in a cellular environment its ability to inhibit eEF2 phosphorylation was assessed in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer, A549 lung cancer and HEK-293T cell lines using a Western blot approach. No sign of decrease in the level of eEF2 phosphorylation was observed up to 12 hours following addition of NH125 to the media. Furthermore, contrary to the previously reported literatures, NH125 induced the phosphorylation of eEF-2.
PMCID: PMC3673019  PMID: 22352903
12.  Proteomic Evaluation and Validation of Cathepsin D Regulated Proteins in Macrophages Exposed to Streptococcus pneumoniae* 
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics : MCP  2011;10(6):M111.008193.
Macrophages are central effectors of innate immune responses to bacteria. We have investigated how activation of the abundant macrophage lysosomal protease, cathepsin D, regulates the macrophage proteome during killing of Streptococcus pneumoniae. Using the cathepsin D inhibitor pepstatin A, we demonstrate that cathepsin D differentially regulates multiple targets out of 679 proteins identified and quantified by eight-plex isobaric tag for relative and absolute quantitation. Our statistical analysis identified 18 differentially expressed proteins that passed all paired t-tests (α = 0.05). This dataset was enriched for proteins regulating the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis or inhibiting competing death programs. Five proteins were selected for further analysis. Western blotting, followed by pharmacological inhibition or genetic manipulation of cathepsin D, verified cathepsin D-dependent regulation of these proteins, after exposure to S. pneumoniae. Superoxide dismutase-2 up-regulation was temporally related to increased reactive oxygen species generation. Gelsolin, a known regulator of mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization, was down-regulated in association with cytochrome c release from mitochondria. Eukaryotic elongation factor (eEF2), a regulator of protein translation, was also down-regulated by cathepsin D. Using absence of the negative regulator of eEF2, eEF2 kinase, we confirm that eEF2 function is required to maintain expression of the anti-apoptotic protein Mcl-1, delaying macrophage apoptosis and confirm using a murine model that maintaining eEF2 function is associated with impaired macrophage apoptosis-associated killing of Streptococcus pneumoniae. These findings demonstrate that cathepsin D regulates multiple proteins controlling the mitochondrial pathway of macrophage apoptosis or competing death processes, facilitating intracellular bacterial killing.
PMCID: PMC3108842  PMID: 21474794
13.  Elongation factor-2 phosphorylation in dendrites and the regulation of dendritic mRNA translation in neurons 
Neuronal activity results in long lasting changes in synaptic structure and function by regulating mRNA translation in dendrites. These activity dependent events yield the synthesis of proteins known to be important for synaptic modifications and diverse forms of synaptic plasticity. Worthy of note, there is accumulating evidence that the eukaryotic Elongation Factor 2 Kinase (eEF2K)/eukaryotic Elongation Factor 2 (eEF2) pathway may be strongly involved in this process. Upon activation, eEF2K phosphorylates and thereby inhibits eEF2, resulting in a dramatic reduction of mRNA translation. eEF2K is activated by elevated levels of calcium and binding of Calmodulin (CaM), hence its alternative name calcium/CaM-dependent protein kinase III (CaMKIII). In dendrites, this process depends on glutamate signaling and N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) activation. Interestingly, it has been shown that eEF2K can be activated in dendrites by metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR) 1/5 signaling, as well. Therefore, neuronal activity can induce local proteomic changes at the postsynapse by altering eEF2K activity. Well-established targets of eEF2K in dendrites include brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), activity-regulated cytoskeletal-associated protein (Arc), the alpha subunit of calcium/CaM-dependent protein kinase II (αCaMKII), and microtubule-associated protein 1B (MAP1B), all of which have well-known functions in different forms of synaptic plasticity. In this review we will give an overview of the involvement of the eEF2K/eEF2 pathway at dendrites in regulating the translation of dendritic mRNA in the context of altered NMDAR- and neuronal activity, and diverse forms of synaptic plasticity, such as metabotropic glutamate receptor-dependent-long-term depression (mGluR-LTD). For this, we draw on studies carried out both in vitro and in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3918593  PMID: 24574971
eEF2; eEF2K; translation; neurons; dendrites; synapses; synaptic plasticity
14.  Peptide Elongation Factor eEF1A-2/S1 Expression in Cultured Differentiated Myotubes and Its Protective Effect against Caspase-3-mediated Apoptosis* 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2001;277(7):5418-5425.
Peptide elongation factor eEF1A-2/S1, which shares 92% homology with eEF1A-1/EF-1α, is exclusively expressed in brain, heart, and skeletal muscle. In these tissues, eEF1A-2/S1 is the only type 1A elongation factor expressed in adulthood because a transition from eEF1A-1/EF-1α to eEF1A-2/S1 occurs in early postnatal development. In this article, we report that the expression of eEF1A-2/S1 protein is activated upon myogenic differentiation. Furthermore, we show that upon serum deprivation-induced apoptosis, eEF1A-2/S1 protein disappears and is replaced by its homolog eEF1A-1/EF-1α in dying myotubes; cell death is characterized by the activation of caspase-3. In addition, we show that the continuous expression of eEF1A-2/S1 resulting from adenoviral gene transfer protects differentiated myotubes from apoptosis by delaying their death, thus suggesting a prosurvival function for eEF1A-2/S1 in skeletal muscle. In contrast, myotube death is accelerated by the introduction of the homologous gene, eEF1A-1/EF-1α, whereas cells transfected with antisense eEF1A-1/EF-1α are protected from apoptosis. These results demonstrate that the two sister genes, eEF1A-1/EF-1α and eEF1A-2/S1, regulate myotube survival with the former exerting prodeath activity and the latter a prosurvival effect.
PMCID: PMC2803684  PMID: 11724805
15.  Targeting eEF1A by a Legionella pneumophila effector leads to inhibition of protein synthesis and induction of host stress response 
Cellular microbiology  2009;11(6):911-926.
The Legionella pneumophila Dot/Icm type IV secretion system is essential for the biogenesis of a phagosome that supports bacterial multiplication, most likely via the functions of its protein substrates. Recent studies indicate that fundamental cellular processes, such as vesicle trafficking, stress response, autophagy and cell death are modulated by these effectors. However, how each translocated protein contributes to the modulation of these pathways is largely unknown. In a screen to search substrates of the Dot/Icm transporter that can cause host cell death, we identified a gene whose product is lethal to yeast and mammalian cells. We demonstrate that this protein, called SidI, is a substrate of the Dot/Icm type IV protein transporter that targets the host protein translation process. Our results indicate that SidI specifically interacts with eEF1A and eEF1Bγ, two components of the eukaryotic protein translation elongation machinery and such interactions leads to inhibition of host protein synthesis. Furthermore, we have isolated two SidI substitution mutants that retain the target binding activity but have lost toxicity to eukaryotic cells, suggesting potential biochemical effect of SidI on eEF1A and eEF1Bγ. We also show that infection by L. pneumophila leads to eEF1A-mediated activation of the heat shock regulatory protein HSF1 in a virulence-dependent manner and deletion of sidI affects such activation. Moreover, similar response occurred in cells transiently transfected to express SidI. Thus, inhibition of host protein synthesis by specific effectors contributes to the induction of stress response in L. pneumophila-infected cells.
PMCID: PMC2967282  PMID: 19386084
Bacterial pathogenesis; Virulence factor; Type IV secretion; eEF1A/HSF1
16.  Insights into the regulation of eukaryotic elongation factor 2 kinase and the interplay between its domains 
Biochemical Journal  2012;442(Pt 1):105-118.
eEF2K (eukaryotic elongation factor 2 kinase) is a Ca2+/CaM (calmodulin)-dependent protein kinase which regulates the translation elongation machinery. eEF2K belongs to the small group of so-called ‘α-kinases’ which are distinct from the main eukaryotic protein kinase superfamily. In addition to the α-kinase catalytic domain, other domains have been identified in eEF2K: a CaM-binding region, N-terminal to the kinase domain; a C-terminal region containing several predicted α-helices (resembling SEL1 domains); and a probably rather unstructured ‘linker’ region connecting them. In the present paper, we demonstrate: (i) that several highly conserved residues, implicated in binding ATP or metal ions, are critical for eEF2K activity; (ii) that Ca2+/CaM enhance the ability of eEF2K to bind to ATP, providing the first insight into the allosteric control of eEF2K; (iii) that the CaM-binding/α-kinase domain of eEF2K itself possesses autokinase activity, but is unable to phosphorylate substrates in trans; (iv) that phosphorylation of these substrates requires the SEL1-like domains of eEF2K; and (v) that highly conserved residues in the C-terminal tip of eEF2K are essential for the phosphorylation of eEF2, but not a peptide substrate. On the basis of these findings, we propose a model for the functional organization and control of eEF2K.
PMCID: PMC3268225  PMID: 22115317
calmodulin (CaM); eukaryotic elongation factor 2 (eEF2); α-kinase; SEL1 domain; ATP-γS, adenosine 5′-[γ-thio]triphosphate; CaM, calmodulin; eEF2, eukaryotic elongation factor 2; eEF2K, eEF2 kinase; GST, glutathione transferase; HEK, human embryonic kidney; HRP, horseradish peroxidase; LB, Luria–Bertani; MHCKA, myosin heavy-chain kinase A; mTORC1, mammalian target of rapamycin, complex 1; Ni-NTA, Ni2+-nitrilotriacetic acid; STD, saturation transfer difference; TEV, tobacco etch virus; TRPM, transient receptor potential melastatin-like
17.  Inhibition of Elongation Factor-2 Kinase Augments the Antitumor Activity of Temozolomide against Glioma 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e81345.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common form of brain cancer with an average survival of less than 12 months, is a highly aggressive and fatal disease characterized by survival of glioma cells following initial treatment, invasion through the brain parenchyma and destruction of normal brain tissues, and ultimately resistance to current treatments. Temozolomide (TMZ) is commonly used chemotherapy for treatment of primary and recurrent high-grade gliomas. Nevertheless, the therapeutic outcome of TMZ is often unsatisfactory. In this study, we sought to determine whether eEF-2 kinase affected the sensitivity of glioma cells to treatment with TMZ.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Using RNA interference approach, a small molecule inhibitor of eEF-2 kinase, and in vitro and in vivo glioma models, we observed that inhibition of eEF-2 kinase could enhance sensitivity of glioma cells to TMZ, and that this sensitizing effect was associated with blockade of autophagy and augmentation of apoptosis caused by TMZ.
These findings demonstrated that targeting eEF-2 kinase can enhance the anti-glioma activity of TMZ, and inhibitors of this kinase may be exploited as chemo-sensitizers for TMZ in treatment of malignant glioma.
PMCID: PMC3841121  PMID: 24303044
18.  Molecular Control of the Amount, Subcellular Location and Activity State of Translation Elongation Factor 2 (eEF-2) in Neurons Experiencing Stress 
Eukaryotic elongation factor 2 (eEF-2) is an important regulator of the protein translation machinery wherein it controls the movement of the ribosome along the mRNA. The activity of eEF-2 is regulated by changes in cellular energy status and nutrient availability, and posttranslational modifications such as phosphorylation and mono-ADP-ribosylation. However, the mechanisms regulating protein translation under conditions of cellular stress in neurons are unknown. Here we show that when rat hippocampal neurons experience oxidative stress (lipid peroxidation induced by exposure to cumene hydroperoxide; CH), eEF-2 is hyperphosphorylated and ribosylated resulting in reduced translational activity. The degradation of eEF-2 requires calpain proteolytic activity and is accompanied by accumulation of eEF-2 in the nuclear compartment. The subcellular localization of both native and phosphorylated forms of eEF-2 is influenced by CRM1 and 14.3.3, respectively. In hippocampal neurons p53 interacts with non-phosphorylated (active) eEF-2, but not with its phosphorylated form. The p53 – eEF-2 complexes are present in cytoplasm and nucleus, and their abundance increases when neurons experience oxidative stress. The nuclear localization of active eEF-2 depends upon its interaction with p53, as cells lacking p53 contain less active eEF-2 in the nuclear compartment. Overexpression of eEF-2 in hippocampal neurons results in increased nuclear levels of eEF-2, and decreased cell death following exposure to CH. Our results reveal novel molecular mechanisms controlling the differential subcellular localization and activity state of eEF-2 that may influence the survival status of neurons during periods of elevated oxidative stress.
PMCID: PMC3772990  PMID: 23542375
Eukaryotic elongation factor 2 (eEF-2); CRM1; 14.3.3; p53; lipid peroxidation; hippocampal neurons
19.  Identification of autophosphorylation sites in eukaryotic elongation factor-2 kinase 
Biochemical Journal  2012;442(Pt 3):681-692.
eEF2K [eEF2 (eukaryotic elongation factor 2) kinase] phosphorylates and inactivates the translation elongation factor eEF2. eEF2K is not a member of the main eukaryotic protein kinase superfamily, but instead belongs to a small group of so-called α-kinases. The activity of eEF2K is normally dependent upon Ca2+ and calmodulin. eEF2K has previously been shown to undergo autophosphorylation, the stoichiometry of which suggested the existence of multiple sites. In the present study we have identified several autophosphorylation sites, including Thr348, Thr353, Ser366 and Ser445, all of which are highly conserved among vertebrate eEF2Ks. We also identified a number of other sites, including Ser78, a known site of phosphorylation, and others, some of which are less well conserved. None of the sites lies in the catalytic domain, but three affect eEF2K activity. Mutation of Ser78, Thr348 and Ser366 to a non-phosphorylatable alanine residue decreased eEF2K activity. Phosphorylation of Thr348 was detected by immunoblotting after transfecting wild-type eEF2K into HEK (human embryonic kidney)-293 cells, but not after transfection with a kinase-inactive construct, confirming that this is indeed a site of autophosphorylation. Thr348 appears to be constitutively autophosphorylated in vitro. Interestingly, other recent data suggest that the corresponding residue in other α-kinases is also autophosphorylated and contributes to the activation of these enzymes [Crawley, Gharaei, Ye, Yang, Raveh, London, Schueler-Furman, Jia and Cote (2011) J. Biol. Chem. 286, 2607–2616]. Ser366 phosphorylation was also detected in intact cells, but was still observed in the kinase-inactive construct, demonstrating that this site is phosphorylated not only autocatalytically but also in trans by other kinases.
PMCID: PMC3286862  PMID: 22216903
calmodulin; eukaryotic elongation factor 2 (eEF2); elongation; α-kinase; mass spectrometry (MS); translation; 2D, two-dimensional; CaM, calmodulin; eEF2, eukaryotic elongation factor 2; eEF2K, eEF2 kinase; ESI, electrospray ionization; GST, glutathione transferase; HEK, human embryonic kidney; LC, liquid chromatography; MHCKA, myosin heavy chain kinase A; TRP, transient receptor potential
20.  Expression of elongation factor-2 kinase contributes to anoikis resistance and invasion of human glioma cells 
Acta pharmacologica Sinica  2011;32(3):361-367.
To determine whether elongation factor-2 kinase (eEF-2 kinase) contributes to the malignant phenotype of glioblastoma multiforme by promoting the migration and invasion of glioma cells. The mechanism involved was also explored.
Human glioma cell lines T98G and LN-229 were used. The expression of eEF-2 kinase was silenced using siRNA, and the invasive potential of tumor cells was assessed using a wound-healing assay and a Matrigel invasion assay. Apoptosis was determined using propidium iodide (PI) staining and western blot analysis of cleaved caspase-3.
Silencing the expression of eEF-2 kinase by siRNA significantly suppressed both the migration and invasion of human glioma cells. Silencing eEF-2 kinase expression also sensitized glioma cells to anoikis, thereby decreasing tumor cell viability in the absence of attachment. Treatment of tumor cells with the caspase inhibitor z-VAD-fmk down-regulated Bim accumulation and abolished glioma cell sensitivity to anoikis.
The results suggest that the expression of eEF-2 kinase contributes to migration and invasion of human glioma cells by protecting them from anoikis. eEF-2 kinase expression may serve as a prognostic marker and a novel target for cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC3586188  PMID: 21278783
eEF-2 kinase; migration; invasion; anoikis; glioma
21.  Expression of elongation factor-2 kinase contributes to anoikis resistance and invasion of human glioma cells 
Acta Pharmacologica Sinica  2011;32(3):361-367.
To determine whether elongation factor-2 kinase (eEF-2 kinase) contributes to the malignant phenotype of glioblastoma multiforme by promoting the migration and invasion of glioma cells. The mechanism involved was also explored.
Human glioma cell lines T98G and LN-229 were used. The expression of eEF-2 kinase was silenced using siRNA, and the invasive potential of tumor cells was assessed using a wound-healing assay and a Matrigel invasion assay. Apoptosis was determined using propidium iodide (PI) staining and Western blot analysis of cleaved caspase-3.
Silencing the expression of eEF-2 kinase by siRNA significantly suppressed both the migration and invasion of human glioma cells. Silencing eEF-2 kinase expression also sensitized glioma cells to anoikis, thereby decreasing tumor cell viability in the absence of attachment. Treatment of tumor cells with the caspase inhibitor z-VAD-fmk down-regulated Bim accumulation and abolished glioma cell sensitivity to anoikis.
The results suggest that the expression of eEF-2 kinase contributes to migration and invasion of human glioma cells by protecting them from anoikis. eEF-2 kinase expression may serve as a prognostic marker and a novel target for cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC3586188  PMID: 21278783
eEF-2 kinase; migration; invasion; anoikis; glioma
22.  A2 isoform of mammalian translation factor eEF1A displays increased tyrosine phosphorylation and ability to interact with different signalling molecules 
The eEF1A1 and eEF1A2 isoforms of translation elongation factor 1A have 98% similarity and perform the same protein synthesis function catalyzing codon-dependent binding of aminoacyl-tRNA to 80S ribosome. However, the isoforms apparently play different non-canonical roles in apoptosis and cancer development which are awaiting further investigations. We hypothesize that the difference in non-translational functions could be caused, in particular, by differential ability of the isoforms to be involved in phosphotyrosine-mediated signalling.
The ability of eEF1A1 and eEF1A2 to interact with SH2 and SH3 domains of different signalling molecules in vitro was compared. Indeed, contrary to eEF1A1, eEF1A2 was able to interact with SH2 domains of Grb2, RasGAP, Shc and C-terminal part of Shp2 as well as with SH3 domains of Crk, Fgr, Fyn and phospholipase C-gamma1.
Interestingly, the interaction of both isoforms with Shp2 in vivo was found using stable cell lines expressing eEF1A1-His or eEF1A2-His. The formation of a complex between endogenous eEF1A and Shp2 was also shown. Importantly, a higher level of tyrosine phosphorylation of eEF1A2 as compared to eEF1A1 was demonstrated in several independent experiments and its importance for interaction of eEF1A2 with Shp2 in vitro was revealed.
Thus, despite the fact that both isoforms of eEF1A could be involved in the phosphotyrosine-mediated processes, eEF1A2 apparently has greater potential to participate in such signalling pathways. Since tyrosine kinases/phosphatases play a prominent role in human cancerogenesis, our observations may gave a basis for recently found oncogenicity of the eEF1A2 isoform.
PMCID: PMC2279807  PMID: 17936057
eEF1A1; eEF1A2; SH2 domain; SH3 domain; Shp2
23.  Eukaryotic Translation Elongation Factor 1-Alpha 1 Inhibits p53 and p73 Dependent Apoptosis and Chemotherapy Sensitivity 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66436.
The p53 family of transcription factors is a key regulator of cell proliferation and death. In this report we identify the eukaryotic translation elongation factor 1-alpha 1 (eEF1A1) to be a novel p53 and p73 interacting protein. Previous studies have demonstrated that eEF1A1 has translation-independent roles in cancer. We report that overexpression of eEF1A1 specifically inhibits p53-, p73- and chemotherapy-induced apoptosis resulting in chemoresistance. Short-interfering RNA-mediated silencing of eEF1A1 increases chemosensitivity in cell lines bearing wild type p53, but not in p53 null cells. Furthermore, silencing of eEF1A1 partially rescues the chemoresistance observed in response to p53 or p73 knockdown, suggesting that eEF1A1 is a negative regulator of the pro-apoptotic function of p53 and p73. Thus, in the context of p53-family signaling, eEF1A1 has anti-apoptotic properties. These findings identify a novel mechanism of regulation of the p53 family of proteins by eEF1A1 providing additional insight into potential targets to sensitize tumors to chemotherapy.
PMCID: PMC3682968  PMID: 23799104
24.  Multiple molecular dynamics simulation of the isoforms of human translation elongation factor 1A reveals reversible fluctuations between "open" and "closed" conformations and suggests specific for eEF1A1 affinity for Ca2+-calmodulin 
Eukaryotic translation elongation factor eEF1A directs the correct aminoacyl-tRNA to ribosomal A-site. In addition, eEF1A is involved in carcinogenesis and apoptosis and can interact with large number of non-translational ligands.
There are two isoforms of eEF1A, which are 98% similar. Despite the strong similarity, the isoforms differ in some properties. Importantly, the appearance of eEF1A2 in tissues in which the variant is not normally expressed can be coupled to cancer development.
We reasoned that the background for the functional difference of eEF1A1 and eEF1A2 might lie in changes of dynamics of the isoforms.
It has been determined by multiple MD simulation that eEF1A1 shows increased reciprocal flexibility of structural domains I and II and less average distance between the domains, while increased non-correlated diffusive atom motions within protein domains characterize eEF1A2. The divergence in the dynamic properties of eEF1A1 and eEF1A2 is caused by interactions of amino acid residues that differ between the two variants with neighboring residues and water environment.
The main correlated motion of both protein isoforms is the change in proximity of domains I and II which can lead to disappearance of the gap between the domains and transition of the protein into a "closed" conformation. Such a transition is reversible and the protein can adopt an "open" conformation again. This finding is in line with our earlier experimental observation that the transition between "open" and "closed" conformations of eEF1A could be essential for binding of tRNA and/or other biological ligands.
The putative calmodulin-binding region Asn311-Gly327 is less flexible in eEF1A1 implying its increased affinity for calmodulin. The ability of eEF1A1 rather than eEF1A2 to interact with Ca2+/calmodulin is shown experimentally in an ELISA-based test.
We have found that reversible transitions between "open" and "close" conformations of eEF1A provide a molecular background for the earlier observation that the eEF1A molecule is able to change the shape upon interaction with tRNA. The ability of eEF1A1 rather than eEF1A2 to interact with calmodulin is predicted by MD analysis and showed experimentally. The differential ability of the eEF1A isoforms to interact with signaling molecules discovered in this study could be associated with cancer-related properties of eEF1A2.
PMCID: PMC2275276  PMID: 18221514
25.  Unbiased Functional Proteomics Strategy for Protein Kinase Inhibitor Validation and Identification of bona fide Protein Kinase Substrates: Application to Identification of EEF1D as a Substrate for CK2 
Journal of Proteome Research  2011;10(11):4887-4901.
Protein kinases have emerged as attractive targets for treatment of several diseases prompting large-scale phosphoproteomics studies to elucidate their cellular actions and the design of novel inhibitory compounds. Current limitations include extensive reliance on consensus predictions to derive kinase–substrate relationships from phosphoproteomics data and incomplete experimental validation of inhibitors. To overcome these limitations in the case of protein kinase CK2, we employed functional proteomics and chemical genetics to enable identification of physiological CK2 substrates and validation of CK2 inhibitors including TBB and derivatives. By 2D electrophoresis and mass spectrometry, we identified the translational elongation factor EEF1D as a protein exhibiting CK2 inhibitor-dependent decreases in phosphorylation in 32P-labeled HeLa cells. Direct phosphorylation of EEF1D by CK2 was shown by performing CK2 assays with EEF1D-FLAG from HeLa cells. Dramatic increases in EEF1D phosphorylation following λ–phosphatase treatment and phospho-EEF1D antibody recognizing EEF1D pS162 indicated phosphorylation at the CK2 site in cells. Furthermore, phosphorylation of EEF1D in the presence of TBB or TBBz is restored using CK2 inhibitor-resistant mutants. Collectively, our results demonstrate that EEF1D is a bona fide physiological CK2 substrate for CK2 phosphorylation. Furthermore, this validation strategy could be adaptable to other protein kinases and readily combined with other phosphoproteomic methods.
We developed an unbiased strategy to identify and validate substrates of protein kinase CK2 combining functional proteomic and chemical genetics approaches. Using this strategy, we validated the elongation factor 1 delta (EEF1D) as a bona fide CK2 substrate in human cells. This approach is potentially adaptable to the validation of any kinase−substrate relationship and to the identification of biomarkers of kinase inhibition.
PMCID: PMC3208357  PMID: 21936567
2D electrophoresis; CK2 inhibitor; functional proteomics; chemical genetics; protein kinase; inhibitor-resistant kinase; unbiased validation strategy

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