Activation and execution of the hepatic integrated stress response by dietary essential amino acid deprivation is amino acid specific

FASEB J. 2022 Jul;36(7):e22396. doi: 10.1096/fj.202200204RR.


Dietary removal of an essential amino acid (EAA) triggers the integrated stress response (ISR) in liver. Herein, we explored the mechanisms that activate the ISR and execute changes in transcription and translation according to the missing EAA. Wild-type mice and mice lacking general control nonderepressible 2 (Gcn2) were fed an amino acid complete diet or a diet devoid of either leucine or sulfur amino acids (methionine and cysteine). Serum and liver leucine concentrations were significantly reduced within the first 6 h of feeding a diet lacking leucine, corresponding with modest, GCN2-dependent increases in Atf4 mRNA translation and induction of selected ISR target genes (Fgf21, Slc7a5, Slc7a11). In contrast, dietary removal of the sulfur amino acids lowered serum methionine, but not intracellular methionine, and yet hepatic mRNA abundance of Atf4, Fgf21, Slc7a5, Slc7a11 substantially increased regardless of GCN2 status. Liver tRNA charging levels did not correlate with intracellular EAA concentrations or GCN2 status and remained similar to mice fed a complete diet. Furthermore, loss of Gcn2 increased the occurrence of ribosome collisions in liver and derepressed mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 signal transduction, but these changes did not influence execution of the ISR. We conclude that ISR activation is directed by intracellular EAA concentrations, but ISR execution is not. Furthermore, a diet devoid of sulfur amino acids does not require GCN2 for the ISR to execute changes to the transcriptome.

Keywords: dietary restriction; feeding; mammalian; polysomes; postprandial period; protein synthesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids* / metabolism
  • Amino Acids, Sulfur* / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Diet
  • Large Neutral Amino Acid-Transporter 1 / metabolism
  • Leucine
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Methionine / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics


  • Amino Acids
  • Amino Acids, Sulfur
  • Large Neutral Amino Acid-Transporter 1
  • Methionine
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Leucine