The GCN2/eIF2αK stress kinase regulates PP1 to ensure mitotic fidelity

EMBO Rep. 2023 Aug 3;24(8):e56100. doi: 10.15252/embr.202256100. Epub 2023 Jun 9.


GCN2/eIF2αK4 is exclusively seen as an eIF2α kinase, which regulates reprogramming of protein translation in response to stress. Here, we show that GCN2 has an unexpected role in unstressed cells as a regulator of mitosis. This function is not through its canonical role in translation reprogramming, but through the regulation of two previously unidentified substrates, PP1α and γ. In the absence of GCN2 function, timing and levels of phosphorylation of key mitotic players are altered, leading to aberrant chromosome alignment, missegregating chromosomes, elevated number of tripolar spindles, and a delay in progression through mitosis. Pharmacological inhibition of GCN2 results in similar effects and is synergistic with Aurora A inhibition in causing more severe mitotic errors and cell death. We suggest that GCN2-dependent phosphorylation of PP1α and γ restrains their activity and this is important to ensure the timely regulation of phosphorylation of several PP1 substrates during early mitosis. These findings highlight a druggable PP1 inhibitor and open new avenues of research on the therapeutic potential of GCN2 inhibitors.

Keywords: Aurora A; GCN2; PP1; chromosome alignment; mitosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromosomes / metabolism
  • Mitosis*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases* / genetics
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases* / metabolism


  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases