A novel function of eIF2alpha kinases as inducers of the phosphoinositide-3 kinase signaling pathway

Mol Biol Cell. 2007 Sep;18(9):3635-44. doi: 10.1091/mbc.e07-01-0053. Epub 2007 Jun 27.


Phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI3K) plays an important role in signal transduction in response to a wide range of cellular stimuli involved in cellular processes that promote cell proliferation and survival. Phosphorylation of the alpha subunit of the eukaryotic translation initiation factor eIF2 at Ser51 takes place in response to various types of environmental stress and is essential for regulation of translation initiation. Herein, we show that a conditionally active form of the eIF2alpha kinase PKR acts upstream of PI3K and turns on the Akt/PKB-FRAP/mTOR pathway leading to S6 and 4E-BP1 phosphorylation. Also, induction of PI3K signaling antagonizes the apoptotic and protein synthesis inhibitory effects of the conditionally active PKR. Furthermore, induction of the PI3K pathway is impaired in PKR(-/-) or PERK(-/-) mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) in response to various stimuli that activate each eIF2alpha kinase. Mechanistically, PI3K signaling activation is indirect and requires the inhibition of protein synthesis by eIF2alpha phosphorylation as demonstrated by the inactivation of endogenous eIF2alpha by small interfering RNA or utilization of MEFs bearing the eIF2alpha Ser51Ala mutation. Our data reveal a novel property of eIF2alpha kinases as activators of PI3K signaling and cell survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Cell Death
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-2 / metabolism
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factors
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism*
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*
  • eIF-2 Kinase / metabolism*


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Eif4ebp1 protein, mouse
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-2
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factors
  • Phosphoproteins
  • PERK kinase
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases
  • eIF-2 Kinase