MEK signaling is required for phosphorylation of eIF2α following amino acid limitation of HepG2 human hepatoma cells

Michelle M. Thiaville, Yuan Xiang Pan, Altin Gjymishka, Can Zhong, Randal J. Kaufman, Michael S. Kilberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The mammalian amino acid response (AAR) pathway is upregulated by protein or amino acid depletion. This pathway involves detection of uncharged tRNA by the GCN2 kinase, phosphorylation of the translation initiation factor eIF2α (eukaryotic initiation factor 2α), and, through subsequent translational control, enhanced de novo synthesis of the transcription factor ATF4. The present studies demonstrate that inhibition of MEK activation in HepG2 human hepatoma cells by PD98059 or U0126 blocked the increased phosphorylation of eIF2α and ATF4 synthesis triggered by amino acid limitation, showing that the AAR requires activation of the MEK-ERK pathway. Inhibitors of the JNK or p38 MAPK pathways were ineffective. Consequently, inhibition of MEK activation blocked transcriptional induction of ATF4 target genes, but the induction was rescued by overexpression of ATF4 protein. Furthermore, the enhanced ERK phosphorylation following amino acid deprivation required GCN2 kinase activity and eIF2α phosphorylation. Inhibition of protein phosphatase 1 action on phospho-eIF2α by knockdown of GADD34 did not block the sensitivity to PD98059, suggesting that MEK functions to enhance GCN2-dependent eIF2α phosphorylation rather than suppressing dephosphorylation. Collectively, these results document a critical interdependence between the MEK-ERK MAPK signaling pathway and the amino acid stress-activated pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10848-10857
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Volume283
Issue number16
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 18 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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