Eukaryotic initiation factor 2 phosphorylation and translational control in metabolism

Thomas D. Baird, Ronald C. Wek

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

232 Scopus citations


Regulation of mRNA translation is a rapid and effective means to couple changes in the cellular environment with global rates of protein synthesis. In response to stresses, such as nutrient deprivation and accumulation of misfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum, phosphorylation of the a subunit of eukaryotic initiation factor 2 (eIF2α~P) reduces general translation initiation while facilitating the preferential translation of select transcripts, such as that encoding activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4), a transcriptional activator of genes subject to the integrated stress response (ISR). In this review, we highlight the translational control processes regulated by nutritional stress, with an emphasis on the events triggered by eIF2α~P, and describe the family of eukaryotic initiation factor 2 kinases and the mechanisms by which each sense different stresses. We then address 3 questions. First, what are the mechanisms by which eIF2α~P confers preferential translation on select mRNA and what are the consequences of the gene expression induced by the ISR? Second, what are the molecular processes by which certain stresses can differentially activate eIF2α~P and ATF4 expression? The third question we address is what are the modes of cross-regulation between the ISR and other stress response pathways, such as the unfolded protein response and mammalian target of rapamycin, and how do these regulatory schemes provide for gene expression programs that are tailored for specific stresses? This review highlights recent advances in each of these areas of research, emphasizing how eIF2α~P and the ISR can affect metabolic health and disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-321
Number of pages15
JournalAdvances in Nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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