Structural basis for eIF2B inhibition in integrated stress response

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Science  03 May 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6439, pp. 495-499
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw4104

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Integrated stress response on the brain

During translation, regulation of protein synthesis by phosphorylation of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 (eIF2) is a common consequence of diverse stress stimuli, which leads to reprogramming of gene expression. This process, known as the integrated stress response, is one of the most fundamental mechanisms of translational control conserved throughout eukaryotes. It is also a promising therapeutic target in neurodegenerative diseases and traumatic brain injury. Kashiwagi et al. report the cryo–electron microscopy and crystal structures and Kenner et al. report the cryo–electron microscopy structure of the guanine nucleotide exchange factor eIF2B in complex with eIF2 or phosphorylated eIF2. The structures of the eIF2•eIF2B complex reveal that the single phosphorylation modification on eIF2 changes how eIF2 binds to eIF2B and locks this enzyme into an inhibited complex.

Science, this issue p. 495, p. 491


A core event in the integrated stress response, an adaptive pathway common to all eukaryotic cells in response to various stress stimuli, is the phosphorylation of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 (eIF2). Normally, unphosphorylated eIF2 transfers the methionylated initiator tRNA to the ribosome in a guanosine 5′-triphosphate–dependent manner. By contrast, phosphorylated eIF2 inhibits its specific guanine nucleotide exchange factor, eIF2B. To elucidate how the eIF2 phosphorylation status regulates the eIF2B activity, we determined cryo–electron microscopic and crystallographic structures of eIF2B in complex with unphosphorylated or phosphorylated eIF2. The unphosphorylated and phosphorylated forms of eIF2 bind to eIF2B in completely different manners: the nucleotide exchange-active and -inactive modes, respectively. These structures explain how phosphorylated eIF2 dominantly inhibits the nucleotide exchange activity of eIF2B.

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