The Saccharomyces cerevisiae MYO1 gene encodes the myosin II heavy chain (Myo1p), a protein required for normal cytokinesis in budding yeast. Myo1p deficiency in yeast (myo1Δ) causes a cell separation defect characterized by the formation of attached cells, yet it also causes abnormal budding patterns, formation of enlarged and elongated cells, increased osmotic sensitivity, delocalized chitin deposition, increased chitin synthesis, and hypersensitivity to the chitin synthase III inhibitor Nikkomycin Z. To determine how differential expression of genes is related to these diverse cell wall phenotypes, we analyzed the global mRNA expression profile of myo1Δ strains.
Global mRNA expression profiles of myo1Δ strains and their corresponding wild type controls were obtained by hybridization to yeast oligonucleotide microarrays. Results for selected genes were confirmed by real time RT-PCR. A total of 547 differentially expressed genes (p ≤ 0.01) were identified with 263 up regulated and 284 down regulated genes in the myo1Δ strains. Gene set enrichment analysis revealed the significant over-representation of genes in the protein biosynthesis and stress response categories. The SLT2/MPK1 gene was up regulated in the microarray, and a myo1Δslt2Δ double mutant was non-viable. Overexpression of ribosomal protein genes RPL30 and RPS31 suppressed the hypersensitivity to Nikkomycin Z and increased the levels of phosphorylated Slt2p in myo1Δ strains. Increased levels of phosphorylated Slt2p were also observed in wild type strains under these conditions.
Following this analysis of global mRNA expression in yeast myo1Δ strains, we conclude that 547 genes were differentially regulated in myo1Δ strains and that the stress response and protein biosynthesis gene categories were coordinately regulated in this mutant. The SLT2/MPK1 gene was confirmed to be essential for myo1Δ strain viability, supporting that the up regulated stress response genes are regulated by the PKC1 cell integrity pathway. Suppression of Nikkomycin Z hypersensitivity together with Slt2p phosphorylation was caused by the overexpression of ribosomal protein genes RPL30 and RPS31. These ribosomal protein mRNAs were down regulated in the myo1Δ arrays, suggesting that down regulation of ribosomal biogenesis may affect cell integrity in myo1Δ strains.
Yeast has numerous mechanisms to survive stress. Deletion of myosin type II (myo1Δ) in Saccharomyces cerevisiae results in a cell that has defective cytokinesis. To survive this genetically induced stress, this budding yeast up regulates the PKC1 cell wall integrity pathway (CWIP). More recently, our work indicated that TOR, another stress signaling pathway, was down regulated in myo1Δ strains. Since negative signaling by TOR is known to regulate PKC1, our objectives in this study were to understand the cross-talk between the TOR and PKC1 signaling pathways and to determine if they share upstream regulators for mounting the stress response in myo1Δ strains.
Here we proved that TORC1 signaling was down regulated in the myo1Δ strain. While a tor1Δ mutant strain had increased viability relative to myo1Δ, a combined myo1Δtor1Δ mutant strain showed significantly reduced cell viability. Synthetic rescue of the tor2-21ts lethal phenotype was observed in the myo1Δ strain in contrast to the chs2Δ strain, a chitin synthase II null mutant that also activates the PKC1 CWIP and exhibits cytokinesis defects very similar to myo1Δ, where the rescue effect was not observed. We observed two pools of Slt2p, the final Mitogen Activated Protein Kinase (MAPK) of the PKC1 CWIP; one pool that is up regulated by heat shock and one that is up regulated by the myo1Δ stress. The cell wall stress sensor WSC1 that activates PKC1 CWIP under other stress conditions was shown to act as a negative regulator of TORC1 in the myo1Δ mutant. Finally, the repression of TORC1 was inversely correlated with the activation of PKC1 in the myo1Δ strain.
Regulated expression of TOR1 was important in the activation of the PKC1 CWIP in a myo1Δ strain and hence its survival. We found evidence that the PKC1 and TORC1 pathways share a common upstream regulator associated with the cell wall stress sensor WSC1. Surprisingly, essential TORC2 functions were not required in the myo1Δ strain. By understanding how yeast mounts a concerted stress response, one can further design pharmacological cocktails to undermine their ability to adapt and to survive.
PKC1; SLT2/MPK1; WSC1; Tor2-21; Fungal cell wall
Myosin II-dependent contraction of the cytokinetic ring and primary septum formation by chitin synthase II are interdependent processes during cytokinesis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Hence, null mutants of myosin II (myo1Δ) and chitin synthase II (chs2Δ) share multiple morphological and molecular phenotypes. To understand the nature of their interdependent functions, we will seek to identify genes undergoing transcriptional regulation in chs2Δ strains and to establish a transcription signature profile for comparison with myo1Δ strains.
A total of 467 genes were commonly regulated between myo1Δ and chs2Δ mutant strains (p ≤ 0.01). Common regulated biological process categories identified by Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA) in both gene expression profiles were: protein biosynthesis, RNA processing, and stress response. Expression of 17/20 genes in the main transcriptional fingerprint for cell wall stress was confirmed in the chs2Δ strain versus 5/20 for the myo1Δ strain. One of these genes, SLT2/MPK1, was up-regulated in both strains and both strains accumulated the hyperphosphorylated form of Slt2p thereby confirming that the PKC1 cell wall integrity pathway (CWIP) was activated by both mutations. The SLT2/MPK1 gene, essential for myo1Δ strains, was not required in the chs2Δ strain.
Comparison of the chs2Δ and myo1Δ gene expression profiles revealed similarities in the biological process categories that respond to the chs2Δ and myo1Δ gene mutations. This supports the view that these mutations affect a common function in cytokinesis. Despite their similarities, these mutants exhibited significant differences in expression of the main transcriptional fingerprint for cell wall stress and their requirement of the CWIP for survival.
This paper describes the first physiological response at the translational level towards heterologous protein production in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In yeast, the phosphorylation of eukaryotic initiation factor 2α (eIF-2α) by Gcn2p protein kinase mediates derepression of GCN4 mRNA translation. Gcn4p is a transcription factor initially found to be required for transcriptional induction of genes responsible for amino acid or purine biosynthesis. Using various GCN4-lacZ fusions, knockout yeast strains, and anti-eIF-2α-P/anti-eIF-2α antibodies, we observed that heterologous expression of the membrane-bound α1β1 Na,K-ATPase from pig kidney, the rat pituitary adenylate cyclase seven-transmembrane-domain receptor, or a 401-residue soluble part of the Na,K-ATPase α1 subunit derepressed GCN4 mRNA translation up to 70-fold. GCN4 translation was very sensitive to the presence of heterologous protein, as a density of 1‰ of heterologous membrane protein derepressed translation maximally. Translational derepression of GCN4 was not triggered by misfolding in the endoplasmic reticulum, as expression of the wild type or temperature-sensitive folding mutants of the Na,K-ATPase increased GCN4 translation to the same extent. In situ activity of the heterologously expressed protein was not required for derepression of GCN4 mRNA translation, as illustrated by the expression of an enzymatically inactive Na,K-ATPase. Two- to threefold overexpression of the highly abundant and plasma membrane-located endogenous H-ATPase also induced GCN4 translation. Derepression of GCN4 translation required phosphorylation of eIF-2α, the tRNA binding domain of Gcn2p, and the ribosome-associated proteins Gcn1p and Gcn20p. The increase in Gcn4p density in response to heterologous expression did not induce transcription from the HIS4 promoter, a traditional Gcn4p target.
To understand how phosphorylation of eukaryotic translation initiation factor (eIF)-2 alpha in Saccharomyces cerevisiae stimulates GCN4 mRNA translation while at the same time inhibiting general translation initiation, we examined the effects of altering the gene dosage of initiator tRNA(Met), eIF-2, and the guanine nucleotide exchange factor for eIF-2, eIF-2B. Overexpression of all three subunits of eIF-2 or all five subunits of eIF-2B suppressed the effects of eIF-2 alpha hyperphosphorylation on both GCN4-specific and general translation initiation. Consistent with eIF-2 functioning in translation as part of a ternary complex composed of eIF-2, GTP, and Met-tRNA(iMet), reduced gene dosage of initiator tRNA(Met) mimicked phosphorylation of eIF-2 alpha and stimulated GCN4 translation. In addition, overexpression of a combination of eIF-2 and tRNA(iMet) suppressed the growth-inhibitory effects of eIF-2 hyperphosphorylation more effectively than an increase in the level of either component of the ternary complex alone. These results provide in vivo evidence that phosphorylation of eIF-2 alpha reduces the activities of both eIF-2 and eIF-2B and that the eIF-2.GTP. Met-tRNA(iMet) ternary complex is the principal component limiting translation in cells when eIF-2 alpha is phosphorylated on serine 51. Analysis of eIF-2 alpha phosphorylation in the eIF-2-overexpressing strain also provides in vivo evidence that phosphorylated eIF-2 acts as a competitive inhibitor of eIF-2B rather than forming an excessively stable inactive complex. Finally, our results demonstrate that the concentration of eIF-2-GTP. Met-tRNA(iMet) ternary complexes is the cardinal parameter determining the site of reinitiation on GCN4 mRNA and support the idea that reinitiation at GCN4 is inversely related to the concentration of ternary complexes in the cell.
Phosphorylation of the alpha subunit of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 (eIF-2 alpha) impairs translation initiation by inhibiting the guanine nucleotide exchange factor for eIF-2, known as eIF-2B. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, phosphorylation of eIF-2 alpha by the protein kinase GCN2 specifically stimulates translation of GCN4 mRNA in addition to reducing general protein synthesis. We isolated mutations in several unlinked genes that suppress the growth-inhibitory effect of eIF-2 alpha phosphorylation catalyzed by mutationally activated forms of GCN2. These suppressor mutations, affecting eIF-2 alpha and the essential subunits of eIF-2B encoded by GCD7 and GCD2, do not reduce the level of eIF-2 alpha phosphorylation in cells expressing the activated GCN2c kinase. Four GCD7 suppressors were shown to reduce the derepression of GCN4 translation in cells containing wild-type GCN2 under starvation conditions or in GCN2c strains. A fifth GCD7 allele, constructed in vitro by combining two of the GCD7 suppressors mutations, completely impaired the derepression of GCN4 translation, a phenotype characteristic of deletions in GCN1, GCN2, or GCN3. This double GCD7 mutation also completely suppressed the lethal effect of expressing the mammalian eIF-2 alpha kinase dsRNA-PK in yeast cells, showing that the translational machinery had been rendered completely insensitive to phosphorylated eIF-2. None of the GCD7 mutations had any detrimental effect on cell growth under nonstarvation conditions, suggesting that recycling of eIF-2 occurs efficiently in the suppressor strains. We propose that GCD7 and GCD2 play important roles in the regulatory interaction between eIF-2 and eIF-2B and that the suppressor mutations we isolated in these genes decrease the susceptibility of eIF-2B to the inhibitory effects of phosphorylated eIF-2 without impairing the essential catalytic function of eIF-2B in translation initiation.
Phosphorylation of the α subunit of eukaryotic initiation factor 2 (eIF-2α) is a well-characterized mechanism regulating protein synthesis in response to environmental stresses. In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, starvation for amino acids induces phosphorylation of eIF-2α by Gcn2 protein kinase, leading to elevated translation of GCN4, a transcriptional activator of more than 50 genes. Uncharged tRNA that accumulates during amino acid limitation is proposed to activate Gcn2p by associating with Gcn2p sequences homologous to histidyl-tRNA synthetase (HisRS) enzymes. Given that eIF-2α phosphorylation in mammals is induced in response to both carbohydrate and amino acid limitations, we addressed whether activation of Gcn2p in yeast is also controlled by different nutrient deprivations. We found that starvation for glucose induces Gcn2p phosphorylation of eIF-2α and stimulates GCN4 translation. Induction of eIF-2α phosphorylation by Gcn2p during glucose limitation requires the function of the HisRS-related domain but is largely independent of the ribosome binding sequences of Gcn2p. Furthermore, Gcn20p, a factor required for Gcn2 protein kinase stimulation of GCN4 expression in response to amino acid starvation, is not essential for GCN4 translational control in response to limitation for carbohydrates. These results indicate there are differences between the mechanisms regulating Gcn2p activity in response to amino acid and carbohydrate deficiency. Gcn2p induction of GCN4 translation during carbohydrate limitation enhances storage of amino acids in the vacuoles and facilitates entry into exponential growth during a shift from low-glucose to high-glucose medium. Gcn2p function also contributes to maintenance of glycogen levels during prolonged glucose starvation, suggesting a linkage between amino acid control and glycogen metabolism.
The integrity of eukaryotic translation initiation factor (eIF) interactions in ribosomal preinitiation complexes is critical for the proper regulation of GCN4 mRNA translation in response to amino acid availability. Increased phosphorylation of eIF2 under amino acid starvation conditions leads to a corresponding increase in GCN4 mRNA translation. The carboxyl-terminal domain (CTD) of eIF5 (eIF5-CTD) has been identified as a potential nucleation site for preinitiation complex assembly. To further characterize eIF5 and delineate its role in GCN4 translational control, we isolated mutations leading to temperature sensitivity (Ts− phenotype) targeted at TIF5, the structural gene encoding eIF5 in yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). Nine single point mutations were isolated, in addition to an allele in which the last 15 amino acids were deleted. The nine point mutations clustered in the eIF5-CTD, which contains two conserved aromatic/acidic boxes. Six of the point mutations derepressed GCN4 translation independent of eIF2 phosphorylation (Gcd− phenotype) at a permissive temperature, directly implicating eIF5-CTD in the eIF2/GTP/Met-tRNAiMet ternary complex binding process required for GCN4 translational control. In addition, stronger restriction of eIF5-CTD function at an elevated temperature led to failure to derepress GCN4 translation (Gcn− phenotype) in all of the mutants, most likely due to leaky scanning of the first upstream open reading frame of GCN4 mRNA. This latter result directly implicates eIF5-CTD in the process of accurate scanning for, or recognition of, AUG codons. Taken together, our results indicate that eIF5-CTD plays a critical role in both the assembly of the 43S complex and the postassembly process in the 48S complex, likely during the scanning process.
Phosphorylation of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 (eIF-2) in amino acid-starved cells of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae reduces general protein synthesis but specifically stimulates translation of GCN4 mRNA. This regulatory mechanism is dependent on the nonessential GCN3 protein and multiple essential proteins encoded by GCD genes. Previous genetic and biochemical experiments led to the conclusion that GCD1, GCD2, and GCN3 are components of the GCD complex, recently shown to be the yeast equivalent of the mammalian guanine nucleotide exchange factor for eIF-2, known as eIF-2B. In this report, we identify new constituents of the GCD-eIF-2B complex and probe interactions between its different subunits. Biochemical evidence is presented that GCN3 is an integral component of the GCD-eIF-2B complex that, while dispensable, can be mutationally altered to have a substantial inhibitory effect on general translation initiation. The amino acid sequence changes for three gcd2 mutations have been determined, and we describe several examples of mutual suppression involving the gcd2 mutations and particular alleles of GCN3. These allele-specific interactions have led us to propose that GCN3 and GCD2 directly interact in the GCD-eIF-2B complex. Genetic evidence that GCD6 and GCD7 encode additional subunits of the GCD-eIF-2B complex was provided by the fact that reduced-function mutations in these genes are lethal in strains deleted for GCN3, the same interaction described previously for mutations in GCD1 and GCD2. Biochemical experiments showing that GCD6 and GCD7 copurify and coimmunoprecipitate with GCD1, GCD2, GCN3, and subunits of eIF-2 have confirmed that GCD6 and GCD7 are subunits of the GCD-eIF-2B complex. The fact that all five subunits of yeast eIF-2B were first identified as translational regulators of GCN4 strongly suggests that regulation of guanine nucleotide exchange on eIF-2 is a key control point for translation in yeast cells just as in mammalian cells.
GCN4 is a transcriptional activator of amino acid biosynthetic genes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae whose expression is regulated by amino-acid availability at the translational level. GCD1 and GCD2 are negative regulators required for the repression of GCN4 translation under nonstarvation conditions that is mediated by upstream open reading frames (uORFs) in the leader of GCN4 mRNA. GCD factors are thought to be antagonized by the positive regulators GCN1, GCN2 and GCN3 in amino acid-starved cells to allow for increased GCN4 protein synthesis. Previous genetic studies suggested that GCD1, GCD2, and GCN3 have closely related functions in the regulation of GCN4 expression that involve translation initiation factor 2 (eIF-2). In agreement with these predictions, we show that GCD1, GCD2, and GCN3 are integral components of a high-molecular-weight complex of approximately 600,000 Da. The three proteins copurified through several biochemical fractionation steps and could be coimmunoprecipitated by using antibodies against GCD1 or GCD2. Interestingly, a portion of the eIF-2 present in cell extracts also cofractionated and coimmunoprecipitated with these regulatory proteins but was dissociated from the GCD1/GCD2/GCN3 complex by 0.5 M KCl. Incubation of a temperature-sensitive gcdl-101 mutant at the restrictive temperature led to a rapid reduction in the average size and quantity of polysomes, plus an accumulation of inactive 80S ribosomal couples; in addition, excess amounts of eIF-2 alpha, GCD1, GCD2, and GCN3 were found comigrating with free 40S ribosomal subunits. These results suggest that GCD1 is required for an essential function involving eIF-2 at a late step in the translation initiation cycle. We propose that lowering the function of this high-molecular-weight complex, or of eIF-2 itself, in amino acid-starved cells leads to reduced ribosomal recognition of the uORFs and increased translation initiation at the GCN4 start codon. Our results provide new insights into how general initiation factors can be regulated to affect gene-specific translational control.
GCN2 is a protein kinase in Saccharomyces cerevisiae that is required for increased expression of the transcriptional activator GCN4 in amino acid-starved cells. GCN2 stimulates GCN4 synthesis at the translational level by phosphorylating the alpha subunit of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 (eIF-2). We identified a truncated form of the GLC7 gene, encoding the catalytic subunit of a type 1 protein phosphatase, by its ability to restore derepression of GCN4 expression in a strain containing the partially defective gcn2-507 allele. Genetic analysis suggests that the truncated GLC7 allele has a dominant negative phenotype, reducing the level of native type 1 protein phosphatase activity in the cell. The truncated form of GLC7 does not suppress the regulatory defect associated with a gcn2 deletion or a mutation in the phosphorylation site of eIF-2 alpha (Ser-51). In addition, the presence of multiple copies of wild-type GLC7 impairs the derepression of GCN4 that occurs in response to amino acid starvation or dominant-activating mutations in GCN2. These findings suggest that the phosphatase activity of GLC7 acts in opposition to the kinase activity of GCN2 in modulating the level of eIF-2 alpha phosphorylation and the translational efficiency of GCN4 mRNA. This conclusion is supported by biochemical studies showing that the truncated GLC7 allele increases the level of eIF-2 alpha phosphorylation in the gcn2-507 mutant to a level approaching that seen in wild-type cells under starvation conditions. The truncated GLC7 allele also leads to reduced glycogen accumulation, indicating that this protein phosphatase is involved in regulating diverse metabolic pathways in yeast cells.
The protein kinase GCN2 stimulates expression of the yeast transcriptional activator GCN4 at the translational level by phosphorylating the alpha subunit of translation initiation factor 2 (eIF-2 alpha) in amino acid-starved cells. Phosphorylation of eIF-2 alpha reduces its activity, allowing ribosomes to bypass short open reading frames present in the GCN4 mRNA leader and initiate translation at the GCN4 start codon. We describe here 17 dominant GCN2 mutations that lead to derepression of GCN4 expression in the absence of amino acid starvation. Seven of these GCN2c alleles map in the protein kinase moiety, and two in this group alter the presumed ATP-binding domain, suggesting that ATP binding is a regulated aspect of GCN2 function. Six GCN2c alleles map in a region related to histidyl-tRNA synthetases, and two in this group alter a sequence motif conserved among class II aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases that directly interacts with the acceptor stem of tRNA. These results support the idea that GCN2 kinase function is activated under starvation conditions by binding uncharged tRNA to the domain related to histidyl-tRNA synthetase. The remaining GCN2c alleles map at the extreme C terminus, a domain required for ribosome association of the protein. Representative mutations in each domain were shown to depend on the phosphorylation site in eIF-2 alpha for their effects on GCN4 expression and to increase the level of eIF-2 alpha phosphorylation in the absence of amino acid starvation. Synthetic GCN2c double mutations show greater derepression of GCN4 expression than the parental single mutations, and they have a slow-growth phenotype that we attribute to inhibition of general translation initiation. The phenotypes of the GCN2c alleles are dependent on GCN1 and GCN3, indicating that these two positive regulators of GCN4 expression mediate the inhibitory effects on translation initiation associated with activation of the yeast eIF-2 alpha kinase GCN2.
Gene expression during muscle cell differentiation is tightly regulated at multiple levels, including translation initiation. The PI3K/mTOR signalling pathway exerts control over protein synthesis by regulating assembly of eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF) 4F, a heterotrimeric complex that stimulates recruitment of ribosomes to mRNA templates. One of the subunits of eIF4F, eIF4A, supplies essential helicase function during this phase of translation. The presence of two cellular eIF4A isoforms, eIF4AI and eIF4AII, has long thought to impart equivalent functions to eIF4F. However, recent experiments have alluded to distinct activities between them. Herein, we characterize distinct regulatory mechanisms between the eIF4A isoforms during muscle cell differentiation. We find that eIF4AI levels decrease during differentiation whereas eIF4AII levels increase during myofiber formation in a MyoD-dependent manner. This study characterizes a previously undefined mechanism for eIF4AII regulation in differentiation and highlights functional differences between eIF4AI and eIF4AII. Finally, RNAi-mediated alterations in eIF4AI and eIF4AII levels indicate that the myogenic process can tolerate short term reductions in eIF4AI or eIF4AII levels, but not both.
Recruitment of the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 (eIF2)-GTP-Met-tRNAiMet ternary complex to the 40S ribosome is stimulated by multiple initiation factors in vitro, including eIF3, eIF1, eIF5, and eIF1A. Recruitment of mRNA is thought to require the functions of eIF4F and eIF3, with the latter serving as an adaptor between the ribosome and the 4G subunit of eIF4F. To define the factor requirements for these reactions in vivo, we examined the effects of depleting eIF2, eIF3, eIF5, or eIF4G in Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells on binding of the ternary complex, other initiation factors, and RPL41A mRNA to native 43S and 48S preinitiation complexes. Depleting eIF2, eIF3, or eIF5 reduced 40S binding of all constituents of the multifactor complex (MFC), comprised of these three factors and eIF1, supporting a mechanism of coupled 40S binding by MFC components. 40S-bound mRNA strongly accumulated in eIF5-depleted cells, even though MFC binding to 40S subunits was reduced by eIF5 depletion. Hence, stimulation of the GTPase activity of the ternary complex, a prerequisite for 60S subunit joining in vitro, is likely the rate-limiting function of eIF5 in vivo. Depleting eIF2 or eIF3 impaired mRNA binding to free 40S subunits, but depleting eIF4G led unexpectedly to accumulation of mRNA on 40S subunits. Thus, it appears that eIF3 and eIF2 are more critically required than eIF4G for stable binding of at least some mRNAs to native preinitiation complexes and that eIF4G has a rate-limiting function at a step downstream of 48S complex assembly in vivo.
The stress-activated protein kinase Gcn2 regulates protein synthesis by phosphorylation of translation initiation factor eIF2α, from yeast to mammals. The Gcn2 kinase domain (KD) is inherently inactive and requires allosteric stimulation by adjoining regulatory domains. Gcn2 contains a pseudokinase domain (YKD) required for high-level eIF2α phosphorylation in amino acid starved yeast cells; however, the role of the YKD in KD activation was unknown. We isolated substitutions of evolutionarily conserved YKD amino acids that impair Gcn2 activation without reducing binding of the activating ligand, uncharged tRNA, to the histidyl-tRNA synthetase-related domain of Gcn2. Several such Gcn− substitutions cluster in predicted helices E and I (αE and αI) of the YKD. We also identified Gcd− substitutions, evoking constitutive activation of Gcn2, mapping in αI of the YKD. Interestingly, αI Gcd− substitutions enhance YKD-KD interactions in vitro, whereas Gcn− substitutions in αE and αI suppress both this effect and the constitutive activation of Gcn2 conferred by YKD Gcd− substitutions. These findings indicate that the YKD interacts directly with the KD for activation of kinase function and identify likely sites of direct YKD-KD contact. We propose that tRNA binding to the HisRS domain evokes a conformational change that increases access of the YKD to sites of allosteric activation in the adjoining KD.
The survival of all living organisms depends on their capacity to adapt their gene expression program to variations in the environment. When subjected to various stresses, eukaryotic cells down-regulate general protein synthesis by phosphorylation of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 alpha (eIF2α). The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has a single eIF2α kinase, Gcn2, activated by uncharged tRNAs accumulating in amino acid starved cells, which bind to a regulatory domain homologous to histidyl-tRNA synthetase. Gcn2 also contains a degenerate, pseudokinase domain (YKD) of largely unknown function, juxtaposed to the authentic, functional kinase domain (KD). Our study demonstrates that direct interaction between the YKD and KD is essential for activation of Gcn2, and identifies likely KD-contact sites in the YKD that can be altered to either impair or constitutively activate kinase function. Our results provide the first functional insights into the regulatory role of the enigmatic YKD of Gcn2.
Genome-wide analysis of ribosome locations in mRNAs of Saccharomyces cerevisiae has revealed the translation of upstream open reading frames that initiate with near-cognate start codons in many transcripts. Two such non-translation initiation codon (AUG)-initiated upstream open reading frames (uORFs) (nAuORFs 1 and 2) occur in GCN4 mRNA upstream of the four AUG-initiated uORFs (uORFs 1–4) that regulate GCN4 translation. We verified that nAuORF2 is translated in vivo by demonstrating β-galactosidase production from lacZ coding sequences fused to nAuORF2, in a manner abolished by replacing its non-AUG initiation codon (AUA) start codon with the non-cognate triplet AAA, whereas translation of nAuORF1 was not detected. Importantly, replacing the near-cognate start codons of both nAuORFs with non-cognate triplets had little or no effect on the repression of GCN4 translation in non-starved cells, nor on its derepression in response to histidine limitation, nutritional shift-down or treatment with rapamycin, hydrogen peroxide or methyl methanesulfonate. Additionally, we found no evidence that initiation from the AUA codon of nAuORF2 is substantially elevated, or dependent on Gcn2, the sole eIF2α kinase of yeast, in histidine-deprived cells. Thus, although nAuORF2 is translated in vivo, it appears that this event is not stimulated by eIF2α phosphorylation nor significantly influences GCN4 translational induction under various starvation or stress conditions.
Translational control of the GCN4 gene in response to amino acid availability is mediated by four short open reading frames in the GCN4 mRNA leader (uORFs) and by phosphorylation of eukaryotic initiation factor 2 (eIF-2). We have proposed that reducing eIF-2 activity by phosphorylation of its alpha subunit or by a mutation in the eIF-2 recycling factor eIF-2B allows ribosomes which have translated the 5'-proximal uORF1 to bypass uORF2 to uORF4 and reinitiate at GCN4 instead. In this report, we present two lines of evidence that all ribosomes which synthesize GCN4 have previously translated uORF1, resumed scanning, and reinitiated at the GCN4 start site. First, GCN4 expression was abolished when uORF1 was elongated to make it overlap the beginning of the GCN4 coding region. Second, GCN4 expression was reduced as uORF1 was moved progressively closer to GCN4, decreasing to only 5% of the level seen in the absence of all uORFs when only 32 nucleotides separated uORF1 from GCN4. We additionally found that inserting small synthetic uORFs between uORF4 and GCN4 inhibited GCN4 expression under derepressing conditions, confirming the idea that reinitiation at GCN4 under conditions of diminished eIF-2 activity is proportional to the distance of the reinitiation site downstream from uORF1. While uORF4 and GCN4 appear to be equally effective at capturing ribosomes scanning downstream from the 5' cap of mRNA, these two ORFs differ greatly in their ability to capture reinitiating ribosomes scanning from uORF1. When the active form of eIF-2 is present at high levels, reinitiation appears to be much more efficient at uORF4 than at GCN4 when each is located very close to uORF1. Under conditions of reduced recycling of eIF-2, reinitiation at uORF4 is substantially suppressed, which allows ribosomes to reach the GCN4 start site; in contrast, reinitiation at GCN4 in constructs lacking uORF4 is unaffected by decreasing the level of eIF-2 activity. This last finding raises the possibility that time-dependent binding to ribosomes of a second factor besides the eIF-2-GTP-Met-tRNA(iMet) ternary complex is rate limiting for reinitiation at GCN4. Moreover, our results show that the efficiency of translational reinitiation can be strongly influenced by the nature of the downstream cistron as well as the intercistronic distance.
Eukaryotic initiation factor 4G (eIF4G) promotes mRNA recruitment to the ribosome by binding to the mRNA cap- and poly(A) tail-binding proteins eIF4E and Pap1p. eIF4G also binds eIF4A at a distinct HEAT domain composed of five stacks of antiparallel α-helices. The role of eIF4G in the later steps of initiation, such as scanning and AUG recognition, has not been defined. Here we show that the entire HEAT domain and flanking residues of Saccharomyces cerevisiae eIF4G2 are required for the optimal interaction with the AUG recognition factors eIF5 and eIF1. eIF1 binds simultaneously to eIF4G and eIF3c in vitro, as shown previously for the C-terminal domain of eIF5. In vivo, cooverexpression of eIF1 or eIF5 reverses the genetic suppression of an eIF4G HEAT domain Ts− mutation by eIF4A overexpression. In addition, excess eIF1 inhibits growth of a second eIF4G mutant defective in eIF4E binding, which was also reversed by cooverexpression of eIF4A. Interestingly, excess eIF1 carrying the sui1-1 mutation, known to relax the accuracy of start site selection, did not inhibit the growth of the eIF4G mutant, and sui1-1 reduced the interaction between eIF4G and eIF1 in vitro. Moreover, a HEAT domain mutation altering eIF4G moderately enhances translation from a non-AUG codon. These results strongly suggest that the binding of the eIF4G HEAT domain to eIF1 and eIF5 is important for maintaining the integrity of the scanning ribosomal preinitiation complex.
The transition from growth to development in Dictyostelium is initiated by amino acid starvation of growing amobae. In other eukaryotes, a key sensor of amino acid starvation and mediator of the resulting physiological responses is the GCN2 protein, an eIF2α kinase. GCN2 downregulates the initiation of translation of bulk mRNA and enhances translation of specific mRNAs by phosphorylating the translation initiation factor eIF2α. Two eIF2α kinases were identified in Dictyostelium and studied herein.
Neither of the eIF2α kinases appeared to be involved in sensing amino acid starvation to initiate development. However, one of the kinases, IfkA, was shown to phosphorylate eIF2α from 1 to 7 hours after the onset of development, resulting in a shift from polysomes to free ribosomes for bulk mRNA. In the absence of the eIF2α phosphorylation, ifkA null cells aggregated earlier than normal and formed mounds and ultimately fruiting bodies that were larger than normal. The early aggregation phenotype in ifkA null cells reflected an apparent, earlier than normal establishment of the cAMP pulsing system. The large mound phenotype resulted from a reduced extracellular level of Countin, a component of the counting factor that regulates mound size. In wild type cells, phosphorylation of eIF2α by IfkA resulted in a specific stabilization and enhanced translational efficiency of countin mRNA even though reduced translation resulted for bulk mRNA.
IfkA is an eIF2α kinase of Dictyostelium that normally phosphorylates eIF2α from 1 to 7 hours after the onset of development, or during the preaggregation phase. This results in an overall reduction in the initiation of protein synthesis during this time frame and a concomitant reduction in the number of ribosomes associated with most mRNAs. For some mRNAs, however, initiation of protein synthesis is enhanced or stabilized under the conditions of increased eIF2α phosphorylation. This includes countin mRNA.
When eukaryotic cells are deprived of amino acids, uncharged tRNAs accumulate and activate the conserved GCN2 protein kinase. Activated Gcn2p up-regulates the general amino acid control pathway through phosphorylation of the translational initiation factor eIF2. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Gcn2p is the only kinase that phosphorylates eIF2 to regulate translation through this mechanism. We addressed changes in yeast growth and tRNA aminoacylation, or charging, during amino acid depletion in the presence and absence of GCN2. tRNA charging was measured using a microarray technique which simultaneously measures all cytosolic tRNAs. A fully prototrophic strain, and its isogenic gcn2Δ counterpart, were used to study depletion for each of the 20 amino acids, with a focus on Trp, Arg, His and Leu, which are metabolically distinct and together provide a good overview on amino acid metabolism.
While the wild-type strain had no observable phenotype upon depletion for any amino acid, the gcn2Δ strain showed slow growth in media devoid of only Trp or Arg. Consistent with the growth phenotypes, profiles of genome-wide tRNA charging revealed significant decrease in cognate tRNA charging only in the gcn2Δ strain upon depletion for Trp or Arg. In contrast, there was no change in tRNA charging during His and Leu depletion in either the wild-type or gcn2Δ strains, consistent with the null effect on growth during loss of these amino acids. We determined that the growth phenotype of Trp depletion is derived from feedback inhibition of aromatic amino acid biosynthesis. By removing Phe and Tyr from the media in addition to Trp, regular growth was restored and tRNATrp charging no longer decreased. The growth phenotype of Arg depletion is derived from unbalanced nitrogen metabolism. By supplementing ornithine upon Arg depletion, both growth and tRNAArg charging were partially restored.
Under mild stress conditions the basal activity of Gcn2p is sufficient to allow for proper adaptation to amino acid depletion. This study highlights the importance of the GCN2 eIF2 kinase pathway for maintaining metabolic homeostasis, contributing to appropriate tRNA charging and growth adaptation in response to culture conditions deficient for the central amino acids, tryptophan and arginine.
The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae responds to amino acid starvation by inducing the transcription factor Gcn4. This is mainly mediated via a translational control mechanism dependent upon the translation initiation eIF2·GTP·Met-tRNAiMet ternary complex, and the four short upstream open reading frames (uORFs) in its 5' mRNA leader. These uORFs act to attenuate GCN4 mRNA translation under normal conditions. During amino acid starvation, levels of ternary complex are reduced. This overcomes the GCN4 translation attenuation effect via a scanning/reinitiation control mechanism dependent upon uORF spacing.
Using published experimental data, we have developed and validated a probabilistic formulation of GCN4 translation using the Chemical Master Equation (Model 1). Model 1 explains GCN4 translation's nonlinear dependency upon uORF placements, and predicts that an as yet unidentified factor, which was proposed to regulate GCN4 translation under some conditions, only has pronounced effects upon GCN4 translation when intercistronic distances are unnaturally short. A simpler Model 2 that does not include this unidentified factor could well represent the regulation of a natural GCN4 mRNA. Using parameter values optimised for this algebraic Model 2, we performed stochastic simulations by Gillespie algorithm to investigate the distribution of ribosomes in different sections of GCN4 mRNA under distinct conditions. Our simulations demonstrated that ribosomal loading in the 5'-untranslated region is mainly determined by the ratio between the rates of 5'-initiation and ribosome scanning, but was not significantly affected by rate of ternary complex binding. Importantly, the translation rate for codons starved of cognate tRNAs is predicted to be the most significant contributor to the changes in ribosomal loading in the coding region under repressing and derepressing conditions.
Our integrated probabilistic Models 1 and 2 explained GCN4 translation and helped to elucidate the role of a yet unidentified factor. The ensuing stochastic simulations evaluated different factors that may impact on the translation of GCN4 mRNA, and integrated translation status with ribosomal density.
mRNA translation; GCN4; Gillespie algorithm; stochastic model
Phosphorylation of the alpha subunit of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 (eIF-2 alpha) by the protein kinase GCN2 mediates increased translation of the transcriptional activator GCN4 in amino acid-starved yeast cells. We show that this key phosphorylation event and the attendant translational induction of GCN4 are dependent on the product of a previously uncharacterized gene, GCN1. Inactivation of GCN1 did not affect the level of eIF-2 alpha phosphorylation when mammalian eIF-2 alpha kinases were expressed in yeast cells in place of GCN2, arguing against an involvement of GCN1 in dephosphorylation of eIF-2 alpha. In addition, while GCN1 is required in vivo for phosphorylation of eIF-2 alpha by GCN2, cell extracts from gcn1 delta strains contained wild-type levels of GCN2 eIF-2 alpha-kinase activity. On the basis of these results, we propose that GCN1 is not needed for GCN2 kinase activity per se but is required for in vivo activation of GCN2 in response to the starvation signal, uncharged tRNA. GCN1 encodes a protein of 297 kDa with an 88-kDa region that is highly similar in sequence to translation elongation factor 3 identified in several fungal species. This sequence similarity raises the possibility that GCN1 interacts with ribosomes or tRNA molecules and functions in conjunction with GCN2 in monitoring uncharged tRNA levels during the process of translation elongation.
When mouse myoblasts or satellite cells differentiate in culture, the expression of myogenic regulatory factor, MyoD, is downregulated in a subset of cells that do not differentiate. The mechanism involved in the repression of MyoD expression remains largely unknown. Here we report that a stress-response pathway repressing MyoD transcription is transiently activated in mouse-derived C2C12 myoblasts growing under differentiation-promoting conditions. We show that phosphorylation of the α subunit of the translation initiation factor 2 (eIF2α) is followed by expression of C/EBP homology protein (CHOP) in some myoblasts. ShRNA-driven knockdown of CHOP expression caused earlier and more robust differentiation, whereas its constitutive expression delayed differentiation relative to wild type myoblasts. Cells expressing CHOP did not express the myogenic regulatory factors MyoD and myogenin. These results indicated that CHOP directly repressed the transcription of the MyoD gene. In support of this view, CHOP associated with upstream regulatory region of the MyoD gene and its activity reduced histone acetylation at the enhancer region of MyoD. CHOP interacted with histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1) in cells. This protein complex may reduce histone acetylation when bound to MyoD regulatory regions. Overall, our results suggest that the activation of a stress pathway in myoblasts transiently downregulate the myogenic program.
A major mechanism of translational regulation in response to a variety of stresses is mediated by phosphorylation of eIF2α to reduce delivery of initiator tRNAs to scanning ribosomes. For some mRNAs, often encoding a bZIP transcription factor, eIF2α phosphorylation leads to enhanced translation due to delayed reinitiation at upstream open reading frames. Dictyostelium cells possess at least three eIF2α kinases that regulate various portions of the starvation-induced developmental program. Cells possessing an eIF2α that cannot be phosphorylated (BS167) show abnormalities in growth and development. We sought to identify a bZIP protein in Dictyostelium whose production is controlled by the eIF2α regulatory system.
Cells disrupted in the bzpR gene had similar developmental defects as BS167 cells, including small entities, stalk defects, and reduced spore viability. β-galactosidase production was used to examine translation from mRNA containing the bzpR 5′ UTR. While protein production was readily apparent and regulated temporally and spatially in wild type cells, essentially no β-galactosidase was produced in developing BS167 cells even though the lacZ mRNA levels were the same as those in wild type cells. Also, no protein production was observed in strains lacking IfkA or IfkB eIF2α kinases. GFP fusions, with appropriate internal controls, were used to directly demonstrate that the bzpR 5′ UTR, possessing 7 uORFs, suppressed translation by 12 fold. Suppression occurred even when all but one uORF was deleted, and translational suppression was removed when the ATG of the single uORF was mutated.
The findings indicate that BzpR regulates aspects of the development program in Dictyostelium, serving as a downstream effector of eIF2α phosphorylation. Its production is temporally and spatially regulated by eIF2α phosphorylation by IfkA and IfkB and through the use of uORFs within the bzpR 5′ UTR.
In response to various environmental stresses, eukaryotic cells down-regulate protein synthesis by phosphorylation of the α subunit of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 (eIF-2α). In mammals, the phosphorylation was shown to be carried out by eIF-2α kinases PKR and HRI. We report the identification and characterization of a cDNA from rat pancreatic islet cells that encodes a new related kinase, which we term pancreatic eIF-2α kinase, or PEK. In addition to a catalytic domain with sequence and structural features conserved among eIF-2α kinases, PEK contains a distinctive amino-terminal region 550 residues in length. Using recombinant PEK produced in Escherichia coli or Sf-9 insect cells, we demonstrate that PEK is autophosphorylated on both serine and threonine residues and that the recombinant enzyme can specifically phosphorylate eIF-2α on serine-51. Northern blot analyses indicate that PEK mRNA is expressed in all tissues examined, with highest levels in pancreas cells. Consistent with our mRNA assays, PEK activity was predominantly detected in pancreas and pancreatic islet cells. The regulatory role of PEK in protein synthesis was demonstrated both in vitro and in vivo. The addition of recombinant PEK to reticulocyte lysates caused a dose-dependent inhibition of translation. In the Saccharomyces model system, PEK functionally substituted for the endogenous yeast eIF-2α kinase, GCN2, by a process requiring the serine-51 phosphorylation site in eIF-2α. We also identified PEK homologs from both Caenorhabditis elegans and the puffer fish Fugu rubripes, suggesting that this eIF-2α kinase plays an important role in translational control from nematodes to mammals.