Ribosome Reinitiation Directs Gene-Specific Translation and Regulates the Integrated Stress Response [Gene Regulation]

October 7th, 2015 by Young, S. K., Willy, J. A., Wu, C., Sachs, M. S., Wek, R. C.

In the Integrated Stress Response, phosphorylation of eIF2α (eIF2α~P) reduces protein synthesis to conserve resources and facilitate preferential translation of transcripts that promote stress adaptation. Preferentially translated GADD34 (PPP1R15A) and constitutively expressed CReP (PPP1R15B) function to dephosphorylate eIF2α~P and restore protein synthesis. The 5′-leaders of GADD34 and CReP contain two upstream ORFs (uORFs). Using biochemical and genetic approaches we show that features of these uORFs are central for their differential expression. In the absence of stress, translation of an inhibitory uORF in GADD34 acts as a barrier that prevents reinitiation at the GADD34 coding region. Enhanced eIF2α~P during stress facilitates ribosome bypass of the uORF, facilitating translation of the GADD34 coding region. CReP expression occurs independent of eIF2α~P via an uORF that allows for translation reinitiation at the CReP coding region independent of stress. Importantly, alterations in the GADD34 uORF affect the status of eIF2α~P, translational control, and cell adaptation to stress. These results show that properties of uORFs that permit ribosome reinitiation are critical for directing gene-specific translational control in the Integrated Stress Response.