A universal feature of metazoan sexual development is the generation of oocyte P granules that withhold certain mRNA species from translation to provide coding potential for proteins during early post-fertilization development. Stabilisation of translationally quiescent mRNA pools in female Plasmodium gametocytes depends on the RNA helicase DOZI, but the molecular machinery involved in the silencing of transcripts in these protozoans is unknown. Using affinity purification coupled with mass-spectrometric analysis we identify a messenger ribonucleoprotein (mRNP) from Plasmodium berghei gametocytes defined by DOZI and the Sm-like factor CITH (homolog of worm CAR-I and fly Trailer Hitch). This mRNP includes 16 major factors, including proteins with homologies to components of metazoan P granules and archaeal proteins. Containing translationally silent transcripts, this mRNP integrates eIF4E and poly(A)-binding protein but excludes P body RNA degradation factors and translation-initiation promoting eIF4G. Gene deletion mutants of 2 core components of this mRNP (DOZI and CITH) are fertilization-competent, but zygotes fail to develop into ookinetes in a female gametocyte-mutant fashion. Through RNA-immunoprecipitation and global expression profiling of CITH-KO mutants we highlight CITH as a crucial repressor of maternally supplied mRNAs. Our data define Plasmodium P granules as an ancient mRNP whose protein core has remained evolutionarily conserved from single-cell organisms to germ cells of multi-cellular animals and stores translationally silent mRNAs that are critical for early post-fertilization development during the initial stages of mosquito infection. Therefore, translational repression may offer avenues as a target for the generation of transmission blocking strategies and contribute to limiting the spread of malaria.
Transmission of malaria relies on ingestion of male and female sexual precursor cells (gametocytes) from the human host by the mosquito vector. Fertilization results in the formation of a diploid zygote that transforms into the ookinete, the motile form of the parasite that is capable of escaping the hostile mosquito midgut environment and truly infecting the mosquito vector. The developmental program of the Plasmodium zygote depends on the availability of mRNA pools transcribed and stored, but not translated, in the female gametocyte. Here we identify the core protein factors that co-operate in the assembly of mRNAs into a translationally silent ribonucleoprotein complex. In the absence of either DOZI or CITH—two key molecules within this complex—gametocytes suffer large scale mRNA de-stabilization that does not affect fertilization but culminates in the abortion of ookinete development soon after zygote formation. We characterize large scale, evolutionarily ancient translational silencing as a principal regulatory element during Plasmodium sexual development.
In response to environmental stress and viral infection, mammalian cells form foci containing translationally silenced mRNPs termed stress granules (SGs). As aggregates of stalled initiation complexes, SGs are defined by the presence of translation initiation machinery in addition to mRNA binding proteins. Here, we report that cells infected with poliovirus (PV) can form SGs early that contain T-cell-restricted intracellular antigen 1 (TIA1), translation initiation factors, RNA binding proteins, and mRNA. However, this response is blocked as infection progresses, and a type of pseudo-stress granule remains at late times postinfection and contains TIA but lacks translation initiation factors, mRNA binding proteins, and most polyadenylated mRNA. This result was observed using multiple stressors, including viral infection, oxidative stress, heat shock, and endoplasmic reticulum stress. Multiple proteins required for efficient viral internal ribosome entry site-dependent translation are localized to SGs under stress conditions, providing a potential rationale for the evolution and maintenance of the SG inhibition phenotype. Further, the expression of a noncleavable form of the RasGAP-SH3 domain binding protein in PV-infected cells enables SGs whose constituents are consistent with the presence of stalled 48S translation preinitiation complexes to persist throughout infection. These results indicate that in poliovirus-infected cells, the functions of TIA self-aggregation and aggregation of stalled translation initiation complexes into stress granules are severed, leading to novel foci that contain TIA1 but lack other stress granule-defining components.
The translation, localization, and degradation of cytoplasmic mRNAs are controlled by the formation and rearrangement of their mRNPs. The conserved Ded1/DDX3 DEAD-box protein functions in an unknown manner to affect both translation initiation and repression. We demonstrate that Ded1 first functions by directly interacting with eIF4G to assemble a Ded1-mRNA-eIF4F complex, which accumulates in stress granules. Following ATP hydrolysis by Ded1, the mRNP exits stress granules and completes translation initiation. Thus, Ded1 functions both as a repressor of translation, by assembling an mRNP stalled in translation initiation, and as an ATP-dependent activator of translation, by resolving the stalled mRNP. These results identify Ded1 as a translation initiation factor that assembles and remodels an intermediate complex in translation initiation.
The stress response in eukaryotic cells often inhibits translation initiation and leads to the formation of cytoplasmic RNA-protein complexes referred to as stress granules. Stress granules contain non-translating mRNAs, translation initiation components, and many additional proteins affecting mRNA function. Stress granules have been proposed to affect mRNA translation and stability, as well as being linked to apoptosis and nuclear processes. Stress granules also interact with P-bodies, another cytoplasmic RNP granule containing non-translating mRNA, translation repressors and some mRNA degradation machinery. Together, stress granules and P-bodies reveal a dynamic cycle of distinct biochemical and compartmentalized mRNPs in the cytosol, with implications for the control of mRNA function.
Fertilization of sea urchin eggs results in a large increase in the rate of protein synthesis which is mediated by the translation of stored maternal mRNA. The masked message hypothesis suggests that messenger ribonucleoprotein particles (mRNPs) from unfertilized eggs are translationally inactive and that fertilization results in alterations of the mRNPs such that they become translationally active. Previous workers have isolated egg mRNPs by sucrose gradient centrifugation and have assayed their translational activity in heterologous cell-free systems. The conflicting results they obtained are probably due to the sensitivity of mRNPs to artifactual activation and inactivation. Previously, we demonstrated that unfractionated mRNPs in a sea urchin cell-free translation system were translationally inactive. Now, using large-pore gel filtration chromatography, we partially purified egg mRNPs while retaining their translationally repressed state. Polysomal mRNPs from fertilized eggs isolated under the same conditions were translationally active. The changes in the pattern of proteins synthesized by fractionated unfertilized and fertilized mRNPs in vitro were similar to those changes observed in vivo. Treatment of egg mRNPs with buffers containing high salt and EDTA, followed by rechromatography, resulted in the activation of the mRNPs and the release of an inhibitor of translation from the mRNPs. Analysis of the inhibitory fraction on one-dimensional sodium dodecyl sulfate gels indicated that this fraction contains a complex set of proteins, several of which were released from high-salt-EDTA-activated mRNPs and not from inactive low-salt control mRNPs. One of the released proteins may be responsible for the repression of egg mRNPs in vitro and be involved in the unmasking of mRNPs at fertilization.
mRNA decapping is a critical step in eukaryotic cytoplasmic mRNA turnover. Cytoplasmic mRNA decapping is catalyzed by Dcp2 in conjunction with its co-activator Dcp1, and is stimulated by decapping enhancer proteins. mRNAs associated with the decapping machinery can assemble into cytoplasmic mRNP granules called processing bodies (PBs). Evidence suggests that PB-associated mRNPs are translationally repressed and can be degraded or stored for subsequent translation. However, whether mRNP assembly into a PB is important for translational repression, decapping or decay has remained controversial. Here we discuss the regulation of decapping machinery recruitment to specific mRNPs and how their assembly into PBs is governed by the relative rates of translational repression, mRNP multimerization and mRNA decay.
mRNA turnover; decapping; Dcp2; Dcp1; processing bodies
Processing bodies (PBs) and Stress granules (SGs) are the founding members of a new class of RNA granules, known as mRNA silencing foci, as they harbor transcripts circumstantially excluded from the translationally active pool. PBs and SGs are able to release mRNAs thus allowing their translation. PBs are constitutive, but respond to stimuli that affect mRNA translation and decay, whereas SGs are specifically induced upon cellular stress, which triggers a global translational silencing by several pathways, including phosphorylation of the key translation initiation factor elF2alpha, and tRNA cleavage among others. PBs and SGs with different composition may coexist in a single cell. These macromolecular aggregates are highly conserved through evolution, from unicellular organisms to vertebrate neurons. Their dynamics is regulated by several signaling pathways, and depends on microfilaments and microtubules, and the cognate molecular motors myosin, dynein, and kinesin. SGs share features with aggresomes and related aggregates of unfolded proteins frequently present in neurodegenerative diseases, and may play a role in the pathology. Virus infections may induce or impair SG formation. Besides being important for mRNA regulation upon stress, SGs modulate the signaling balancing apoptosis and cell survival. Finally, the formation of nuclear stress bodies (nSBs), which share components with SGs, and the assembly of additional cytosolic aggregates containing RNA—the UV granules and the Ire1 foci—, all them induced by specific cell damage factors, contribute to cell survival.
Processing Body; Stress Granule; Kinesin; Dynein; Bicaudal D; aggresome
Recent results suggest that cytoplasmic mRNAs can form translationally repressed messenger ribonucleoprotein particles (mRNPs) capable of decapping and degradation, or accumulation into cytoplasmic processing bodies (P-bodies), which can function as sites of mRNA storage. The proteins that function in transitions between the translationally repressed mRNPs that accumulate in P-bodies and mRNPs engaged in translation are largely unknown. Herein, we demonstrate that the yeast translation initiation factor Ded1p can localize to P-bodies. Moreover, depletion of Ded1p leads to defects in P-body formation. Overexpression of Ded1p results in increased size and number of P-bodies and inhibition of growth in a manner partially suppressed by loss of Pat1p, Dhh1p, or Lsm1p. Mutations that inactivate the ATPase activity of Ded1p increase the overexpression growth inhibition of Ded1p and prevent Ded1p from localizing in P-bodies. Combined with earlier work showing Ded1p can have a positive effect on translation, these results suggest that Ded1p is a bifunctional protein that can affect both translation initiation and P-body formation.
Processing bodies (P-bodies) are cytoplasmic RNA granules that contain translationally repressed messenger ribonucleoproteins (mRNPs) and messenger RNA (mRNA) decay factors. The physical interactions that form the individual mRNPs within P-bodies and how those mRNPs assemble into larger P-bodies are unresolved. We identify direct protein interactions that could contribute to the formation of an mRNP complex that consists of core P-body components. Additionally, we demonstrate that the formation of P-bodies that are visible by light microscopy occurs either through Edc3p, which acts as a scaffold and cross-bridging protein, or via the “prionlike” domain in Lsm4p. Analysis of cells defective in P-body formation indicates that the concentration of translationally repressed mRNPs and decay factors into microscopically visible P-bodies is not necessary for basal control of translation repression and mRNA decay. These results suggest a stepwise model for P-body assembly with the initial formation of a core mRNA–protein complex that then aggregates through multiple specific mechanisms.
The control of translation and mRNA degradation plays a key role in the regulation of eukaryotic gene expression. In the cytosol, mRNAs engaged in translation are distributed throughout the cytosol, while translationally inactive mRNAs can accumulate in P bodies, in complex with mRNA degradation and translation repression machinery, or in stress granules, which appear to be mRNAs stalled in translation initiation. Here we discuss how these different granules suggest a dynamic model for the metabolism of cytoplasmic mRNAs wherein they cycle between different mRNP states with different functional properties and subcellular locations.
mRNA decay; Translational repression; P bodies and Stress granules
Central nervous system myelination requires the synthesis of large amounts of myelin basic protein (MBP) at the axon–glia contact site. MBP messenger RNA (mRNA) is transported in RNA granules to oligodendroglial processes in a translationally silenced state. This process is regulated by the trans-acting factor heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP) A2 binding to the cis-acting A2 response element (A2RE). Release of this repression of MBP mRNA translation is thus essential for myelination. Mice deficient in the Src family tyrosine kinase Fyn are hypomyelinated and contain reduced levels of MBP. Here, we identify hnRNP A2 as a target of activated Fyn in oligodendrocytes. We show that active Fyn phosphorylates hnRNP A2 and stimulates translation of an MBP A2RE–containing reporter construct. Neuronal adhesion molecule L1 binding to oligodendrocytes results in Fyn activation, which leads to an increase in hnRNP A2 phosphorylation. These results suggest that Fyn kinase activation results in the localized translation of MBP mRNA at sites of axon–glia contact and myelin deposition.
In response to mammalian orthoreovirus (MRV) infection, cells initiate a stress response that includes eIF2α phosphorylation and protein synthesis inhibition. We have previously shown that early in infection, MRV activation of eIF2α phosphorylation results in the formation of cellular stress granules (SGs). In this work, we show that as infection proceeds, MRV disrupts SGs despite sustained levels of phosphorylated eIF2α and, further, interferes with the induction of SGs by other stress inducers. MRV interference with SG formation occurs downstream of eIF2α phosphorylation, suggesting the virus uncouples the cellular stress signaling machinery from SG formation. We additionally examined mRNA translation in the presence of SGs induced by eIF2α phosphorylation-dependent and -independent mechanisms. We found that irrespective of eIF2α phosphorylation status, the presence of SGs in cells correlated with inhibition of viral and cellular translation. In contrast, MRV disruption of SGs correlated with the release of viral mRNAs from translational inhibition, even in the presence of phosphorylated eIF2α. Viral mRNAs were also translated in the presence of phosphorylated eIF2α in PKR−/− cells. These results suggest that MRV escape from host cell translational shutoff correlates with virus-induced SG disruption and occurs in the presence of phosphorylated eIF2α in a PKR-independent manner.
Alphavirus infection results in the shutoff of host protein synthesis in favor of viral translation. Here, we show that during Semliki Forest virus (SFV) infection, the translation inhibition is largely due to the activation of the cellular stress response via phosphorylation of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2α subunit (eIF2α). Infection of mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs) expressing a nonphosphorylatable mutant of eIF2α does not result in efficient shutoff, despite efficient viral protein production. Furthermore, we show that the SFV translation enhancer element counteracts the translation inhibition imposed by eIF2α phosphorylation. In wild-type MEFs, viral infection induces the transient formation of stress granules (SGs) containing the cellular TIA-1/R proteins. These SGs are disassembled in the vicinity of viral RNA replication, synchronously with the switch from cellular to viral gene expression. We propose that phosphorylation of eIF2α and the consequent SG assembly is important for shutoff to occur and that the localized SG disassembly and the presence of the enhancer aid the SFV mRNAs to elude general translational arrest.
Stress granules (SGs) are large cytoplasmic ribonucleoprotein complexes that are assembled when cells are exposed to stress. SGs promote the survival of stressed cells by contributing to the reprogramming of protein expression as well as by blocking pro-apoptotic signaling cascades. These cytoprotective effects implicated SGs in the resistance of cancer cells to radiation and chemotherapy. We have found that sodium selenite, a selenium compound with chemotherapeutic potential, is a potent inducer of SG assembly. Selenite-induced SGs differ from canonical mammalian SGs in their morphology, composition and mechanism of assembly. Their assembly is induced primarily by eIF4E-binding protein1 (4EBP1)-mediated inhibition of translation initiation, which is reinforced by concurrent phosphorylation of eIF2α. Selenite-induced SGs lack several classical SG components, including proteins that contribute to pro-survival functions of canonical SGs. Our results reveal a new mechanism of mammalian SG assembly and provide insights into how selenite cytotoxicity may be exploited as an anti-neoplastic therapy.
Stress granules contain a large number of post-translationally modified proteins, and studies have shown that these modifications serve as recruitment tags for specific proteins and even control the assembly and disassembly of the granules themselves. Work originating from our laboratory has focused on the role protein methylation plays in stress granule composition and function. We have demonstrated that both asymmetrically and symmetrically dimethylated proteins are core constituents of stress granules, and we have endeavored to understand when and how this occurs. Here we seek to integrate this data into a framework consisting of the currently known post-translational modifications affecting stress granules to produce a model of stress granule dynamics that, in turn, may serve as a benchmark for understanding and predicting how post-translational modifications regulate other granule types.
Eukaryotic cells under stress repress translation and localize these messenger RNAs (mRNAs) to cytoplasmic RNA granules. We show that specific stress stimuli induce the assembly of RNA granules in an organelle with bacterial ancestry, the chloroplast of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. These chloroplast stress granules (cpSGs) form during oxidative stress and disassemble during recovery from stress. Like mammalian stress granules, cpSGs contain poly(A)-binding protein and the small, but not the large, ribosomal subunit. In addition, mRNAs are in continuous flux between polysomes and cpSGs during stress. Localization of cpSGs within the pyrenoid reveals that this chloroplast compartment functions in this stress response. The large subunit of ribulosebisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase also assembles into cpSGs and is known to bind mRNAs during oxidative stress, raising the possibility that it plays a role in cpSG assembly. This discovery within such an organelle suggests that mRNA localization to granules during stress is a more general phenomenon than currently realized.
Cytoplasmic aggregates known as stress granules (SGs) arise as a consequence of cellular stress and contain stalled translation preinitiation complexes. These foci are thought to serve as sites of mRNA storage or triage during the cell stress response. SG formation has been shown to require induction of eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF)2α phosphorylation. Herein, we investigate the potential role of other initiation factors in this process and demonstrate that interfering with eIF4A activity, an RNA helicase required for the ribosome recruitment phase of translation initiation, induces SG formation and that this event is not dependent on eIF2α phosphorylation. We also show that inhibition of eIF4A activity does not impair the ability of eIF2α to be phosphorylated under stress conditions. Furthermore, we observed SG assembly upon inhibition of cap-dependent translation after poliovirus infection. We propose that SG modeling can occur via both eIF2α phosphorylation-dependent and -independent pathways that target translation initiation.
The RNA-binding protein TIAR has been proposed to inhibit protein synthesis transiently by promoting the formation of translationally silent stress granules. Here, we report the selective binding of TIAR to several mRNAs encoding translation factors such as eukaryotic initiation factor 4A (eIF4A) and eIF4E (translation initiation factors), eEF1B (a translation elongation factor), and c-Myc (which transcriptionally controls the expression of numerous translation regulatory proteins). TIAR bound the 3′-untranslated regions of these mRNAs and potently suppressed their translation, particularly in response to low levels of short-wavelength UV (UVC) irradiation. The UVC-imposed global inhibition of the cellular translation machinery was significantly relieved after silencing of TIAR expression. We propose that the TIAR-mediated inhibition of translation factor expression elicits a sustained repression of protein biosynthesis in cells responding to stress.
Cytoplasmic stress granules (SGs) are specialized storage sites of untranslated mRNAs whose formation occurs under different stress conditions and is often associated with cell survival. SGs-inducing stresses include radiations, hypoxia, viral infections, and chemical inhibitors of specific translation initiation factors. The FDA-approved drug bortezomib (Velcade®) is a peptide boronate inhibitor of the 26S proteasome that is very efficient for the treatment of myelomas and other hematological tumors. Solid tumors are largely refractory to bortezomib. In the present study, we investigated the formation of SGs following bortezomib treatment.
We show that bortezomib efficiently induces the formation of SGs in cancer cells. This process involves the phosphorylation of translation initiation factor eIF2α by heme-regulated inhibitor kinase (HRI). Depletion of HRI prevents bortezomib-induced formation of SGs and promotes apoptosis.
This is the first study describing the formation of SGs by a chemotherapeutic compound. We speculate that the activation of HRI and the formation of SGs might constitute a mechanism by which cancer cells resist bortezomib-mediated apoptosis.
Cells possess mechanisms that permit survival and recovery from stress, several of which regulate the phosphorylation of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2α (eIF2α). We identified the human OGFOD1 protein as a novel stress granule component that regulates the phosphorylation of eIF2α and the resumption of translation in cells recovering from arsenite-induced stress. Coimmunoprecipitation studies revealed that OGFOD1 associates with a small subset of stress granule proteins (G3BP1, USP10, Caprin1, and YB-1) and the ribosome in both unstressed and stressed cells. Overexpression of OGFOD1 led to increased abundance of phosphorylated eIF2α, both in unstressed cells and in cells exposed to arsenite-induced stress, and to accelerated apoptosis during stress. Conversely, knockdown of OGFOD1 resulted in smaller amounts of phosphorylated eIF2α and a faster accumulation of polyribosomes in cells recovering from stress. Finally, OGFOD1 interacted with both eIF2α and the eIF2α kinase heme-regulated inhibitor (HRI), which was identified as a novel stress granule resident. These findings argue that OGFOD1 plays important proapoptotic roles in the regulation of translation and HRI-mediated phosphorylation of eIF2α in cells subjected to arsenite-induced stress.
YB-1 is a broad-specificity RNA-binding protein that is involved in regulation of mRNA transcription, splicing, translation, and stability. In both germinal and somatic cells, YB-1 and related proteins are major components of translationally inactive messenger ribonucleoprotein particles (mRNPs) and are mainly responsible for storage of mRNAs in a silent state. However, mechanisms regulating the repressor activity of YB-1 are not well understood. Here we demonstrate that association of YB-1 with the capped 5′ terminus of the mRNA is regulated via phosphorylation by the serine/threonine protein kinase Akt. In contrast to its nonphosphorylated form, phosphorylated YB-1 fails to inhibit cap-dependent but not internal ribosome entry site-dependent translation of a reporter mRNA in vitro. We also show that similar to YB-1, Akt is associated with inactive mRNPs and that activated Akt may relieve translational repression of the YB-1-bound mRNAs. Using Affymetrix microarrays, we found that many of the YB-1-associated messages encode stress- and growth-related proteins, raising the intriguing possibility that Akt-mediated YB-1 phosphorylation could, in part, increase production of proteins regulating cell proliferation, oncogenic transformation, and stress response.
The regulation of translation and mRNA degradation in eukaryotic cells involves the formation of cytoplasmic mRNP granules referred to as P-bodies and stress granules. The yeast Pbp1 protein and its mammalian ortholog, Ataxin-2, localize to stress granules and promote their formation. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Pbp1 also interacts with the Pab1, Lsm12, Pbp4, and Dhh1 proteins. In this work, we determined whether these Pbp1 interacting proteins also accumulated in stress granules and/or could affect their formation. These experiments revealed the following observations. First, the Lsm12, Pbp4, and Dhh1 proteins all accumulate in stress granules, whereas only the Dhh1 protein is a constitutive P-body component. Second, deletion or over-expression of the Pbp4 and Lsm12 proteins did not dramatically affect the formation of stress granules or P-bodies. In contrast, Pbp1 and Dhh1 over-expression inhibits cell growth, and for Dhh1, leads to the accumulation of stress granules. Finally, a strain lacking the Pab1 protein was reduced at forming stress granules, although they could still be detected. This indicates that Pab1 affects, but is not absolutely required for, stress granule formation. These observations offer new insight into the function of stress granule components with roles in stress granule assembly and mRNP regulation.
Environmental stress-induced phosphorylation of eIF2α inhibits
protein translation by reducing the availability of
eIF2-GTP-tRNAiMet, the ternary complex that joins initiator
tRNAMet to the 43S preinitiation complex. The resulting
untranslated mRNA is dynamically routed to discrete cytoplasmic foci
known as stress granules (SGs), a process requiring the related
RNA-binding proteins TIA-1 and TIAR. SGs appear to be in
equilibrium with polysomes, but the nature of this relationship is
obscure. We now show that most components of the 48S preinitiation
complex (i.e., small, but not large, ribosomal subunits, eIF3, eIF4E,
eIF4G) are coordinately recruited to SGs in arsenite-stressed cells. In
contrast, eIF2 is not a component of newly assembled SGs. Cells
expressing a phosphomimetic mutant (S51D) of eIF2α assemble SGs of
similar composition, confirming that the recruitment of these factors
is a direct consequence of blocked translational initiation and not due
to other effects of arsenite. Surprisingly, phospho-eIF2α is
recruited to SGs that are disassembling in cells recovering from
arsenite-induced stress. We discuss these results in the context of a
translational checkpoint model wherein TIA and eIF2 are functional
antagonists of translational initiation, and in which lack of ternary
complex drives SG assembly.
Stress granules (SGs) are cytoplasmic foci at which untranslated mRNAs accumulate in cells exposed to environmental stress. We have identified ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), an enzyme required for polyamine synthesis, and eIF5A, a polyamine (hypusine)-modified translation factor, as proteins required for arsenite-induced SG assembly. Knockdown of deoxyhypusine synthase (DHS) or treatment with a deoxyhypusine synthase inhibitor (GC7) prevents hypusine modification of eIF5A as well as arsenite-induced polysome disassembly and stress granule assembly. Time-course analysis reveals that this is due to a slowing of stress-induced ribosome run-off in cells lacking hypusine-eIF5A. Whereas eIF5A only marginally affects protein synthesis under normal conditions, it is required for the rapid onset of stress-induced translational repression. Our results reveal that hypusine-eIF5A-facilitated translation elongation promotes arsenite-induced polysome disassembly and stress granule assembly in cells subjected to adverse environmental conditions.
The Ste20 kinase targets the decapping enzyme Dcp2 during stress responses, allowing accumulation of Dcp2 in P-bodies and the formation of stress granules.
Translation and messenger RNA (mRNA) degradation are important sites of gene regulation, particularly during stress where translation and mRNA degradation are reprogrammed to stabilize bulk mRNAs and to preferentially translate mRNAs required for the stress response. During stress, untranslating mRNAs accumulate both in processing bodies (P-bodies), which contain some translation repressors and the mRNA degradation machinery, and in stress granules, which contain mRNAs stalled in translation initiation. How signal transduction pathways impinge on proteins modulating P-body and stress granule formation and function is unknown. We show that during stress in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Dcp2 is phosphorylated on serine 137 by the Ste20 kinase. Phosphorylation of Dcp2 affects the decay of some mRNAs and is required for Dcp2 accumulation in P-bodies and specific protein interactions of Dcp2 and for efficient formation of stress granules. These results demonstrate that Ste20 has an unexpected role in the modulation of mRNA decay and translation and that phosphorylation of Dcp2 is an important control point for mRNA decapping.