Biochemical Journal

Research article

Stress-induced regulation of eukaryotic elongation factor 2 kinase by SB 203580-sensitive and −insensitive pathways

Axel KNEBEL, Claire E. HAYDON, Nick MORRICE, Philip COHEN

Abstract

Eukaryotic elongation factor 2 (eEF2) kinase, the enzyme that inactivates eEF2, is controlled by phosphorylation. Previous work showed that stress-activated protein kinase 4 (SAPK4, also called p38Δ) inhibits eEF2 kinase in vitro by phosphorylating Ser-359, while ribosomal protein S6 kinases inhibit eEF2 kinase by phosphorylating Ser-366 [Knebel, Morrice and Cohen (2001) EMBO J. 20, 4360—4369; Wang, Li, Williams, Terada, Alessi and Proud (2001) EMBO J. 20, 4370—4379]. In the present study we have examined the effects of the protein synthesis inhibitor anisomycin and tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) on the phosphorylation of eEF2 kinase. We demonstrate that Ser-359, Ser-366 and two novel sites (Ser-377 and Ser-396) are all phosphorylated in human epithelial KB cells, but only the phosphorylation of Ser-359 and Ser-377 increases in response to these agonists and correlates with the dephosphorylation (activation) of eEF2. Ser-377 is probably a substrate of MAPKAP-K2/K3 (mitogen-activated protein kinase-activated protein kinase 2/kinase 3) in cells, because eEF2 kinase is phosphorylated efficiently by these protein kinases in vitro and phosphorylation of this site, induced by TNF-α and low (but not high) concentrations of anisomycin, is prevented by SB 203580, which inhibits SAPK2a/p38, their ‘upstream’ activator. The phosphorylation of Ser-359 induced by high concentrations of anisomycin is probably catalysed by SAPK4/p38Δ in cells, because no other stress-activated, proline-directed protein kinase tested phosphorylates this site in vitro and phosphorylation is insensitive to SB 203580. Interestingly, the phosphorylation of Ser-359 induced by TNF-α or low concentrations of anisomycin is suppressed by SB 203580, indicating that phosphorylation is also mediated by a novel pathway. Since the phosphorylation of Ser-377 does not inhibit eEF2 kinase in vitro, our results suggest that anisomycin or TNF-α inhibit eEF2 kinase via the phosphorylation of Ser-359.

  • elongation
  • mRNA translation
  • p38
  • SB 203580

Footnotes

  • Abbreviations used: Ca/CaM, calcium and calmodulin; EBSS, Earl's balanced salt solution; eEF2, eukaryotic elongation factor 2; FCS, foetal calf serum; GST, glutathione S-transferase; HSP27, heat shock protein 27; JNK, c-Jun N-terminal kinase; MAPK, mitogen-activated protein kinase; MAPKAP-K, MAPK-activated protein kinase; MKK, MAPK kinase; S396A, a mutation of serine to alanine at position 396; SAPK, stress activated protein kinase; TNF, tumour necrosis factor.