Eukaryotic elongation factor 2 kinase, an unusual enzyme with multiple roles

Adv Biol Regul. 2014 May;55:15-27. doi: 10.1016/j.jbior.2014.04.003. Epub 2014 Apr 30.


Eukaryotic elongation factor 2 kinase (eEF2K) is a member of the small group of atypical 'α-kinases'. It phosphorylates and inhibits eukaryotic elongation factor 2, to slow down the elongation stage of protein synthesis, which normally consumes a great deal of energy and amino acids. The activity of eEF2K is normally dependent on calcium ions and calmodulin. eEF2K is also regulated by a plethora of other inputs, including inhibition by signalling downstream of anabolic signalling pathways such as the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1. Recent data show that eEF2K helps to protect cancer cells against nutrient starvation and is also cytoprotective in other settings, including hypoxia. Growing evidence points to roles for eEF2K in neurological processes such as learning and memory and perhaps in depression.

Keywords: Calmodulin; Protein synthesis; eEF2; mRNA translation; mTORC1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autophagy / physiology
  • Calcium / pharmacology
  • Cytoprotection / physiology
  • Elongation Factor 2 Kinase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Elongation Factor 2 Kinase / chemistry
  • Elongation Factor 2 Kinase / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Glutamic Acid / physiology
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Phosphorylation
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism


  • Glutamic Acid
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Elongation Factor 2 Kinase
  • Calcium