Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol.424, No.2, 308-314, 2012
Phosphorylation of elongation factor-2 kinase differentially regulates the enzyme's stability under stress conditions
Eukaryotic elongation factor-2 kinase (eEF-2K) is a Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent enzyme that negatively regulates protein synthesis. eEF-2K has been shown to be up-regulated in cancer, and to play an important role in cell survival through inhibition of protein synthesis. Post-translational modification of protein synthesis machinery is important for its regulation and could be critical for survival of cancer cells encountering stress. The purpose of our study was to examine the regulation of eEF-2K during stress with a focus on the roles of phosphorylation in determining the stability of eEF-2K. We found that stress conditions (nutrient deprivation and hypoxia) increase eEF-2K protein. mRNA levels are only transiently increased and shortly return to normal, while eEF-2K protein levels continue to increase after further exposure to stress. A seemingly paradoxical decrease in eEF-2K stability was found when glioma cells were subjected to stress despite increased protein expression. We further demonstrated that phosphorylation of eEF-2K differentially affects the enzyme's turnover under both normal and stress conditions, as evidenced by the different half-lives of phosphorylation-defective mutants of eEF-2K. We further found that the eEF-2K site (Ser398) phosphorylated by AMPK is pivotal to the protein's stability, as the half-life of S398A mutant increases to greater than 24 h under both normal and stress conditions. These data indicate that eEF-2K is regulated at multiple levels with phosphorylation playing a critical role in the enzyme's turnover under stressful conditions. The complexity of eEF-2K phosphorylation highlights the intricacies of protein synthesis control during cellular stress. (C) 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.