Publication date: Sep 22, 2023
The integrated stress response (ISR) protects cells from a variety of insults. Once elicited (e. g. by virus infections), it eventually leads to the block of mRNA translation. Central to the ISR are the interactions between translation initiation factors eIF2 and eIF2B. Under normal conditions, eIF2 drives the initiation of protein synthesis through hydrolysis of GTP, which becomes replenished when binding to the guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) eIF2B. The antiviral branch of the ISR is activated by the RNA-activated kinase PKR which phosphorylates eIF2, thereby converting it into an eIF2B inhibitor. Here, we describe the recently solved structures of eIF2B in complex with eIF2, and a novel escape strategy used by viruses. While unphosphorylated eIF2 interacts with eIF2B in its “productive” conformation, phosphorylated eIF2 [eIF2(αP)] engages a different binding cavity on eIF2B and forces it into the “non-productive” conformation that prohibits GEF activity. It is well established that viruses express so-called PKR antagonists that interfere with double-strand RNA, PKR itself, or eIF2. However recently, three taxonomically unrelated viruses were reported to encode antagonists targeting eIF2B instead. For one antagonist, the S segment non-structural protein (NSs) of Sandfly fever Sicilian virus, atomic structures showed that it occupies the eIF2(αP)-binding cavity on eIF2B without imposing a switch to the non-productive conformation. NSs thus antagonizes the activity of PKR by protecting eIF2B from inhibition by eIF2(αP). As the ISR and specifically eIF2B are central to neuroprotection and a wide range of genetic and age-related diseases, these developments may open new possibilities for treatments.
|Mrna||integrated stress response|