Neuron-specific translational control shift ensures proteostatic resilience during ER stress

Kimberly Wolzak, Anna Nölle, Margherita Farina, Truus E. M. Abbink, Marjo S. van der Knaap, Matthijs Verhage, Wiep Scheper*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Proteostasis is essential for cellular survival and particularly important for highly specialised post-mitotic cells such as neurons. Transient reduction in protein synthesis by protein kinase R-like endoplasmic reticulum (ER) kinase (PERK)-mediated phosphorylation of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2α (p-eIF2α) is a major proteostatic survival response during ER stress. Paradoxically, neurons are remarkably tolerant to PERK dysfunction, which suggests the existence of cell type-specific mechanisms that secure proteostatic stress resilience. Here, we demonstrate that PERK-deficient neurons, unlike other cell types, fully retain the capacity to control translation during ER stress. We observe rescaling of the ATF4 response, while the reduction in protein synthesis is fully retained. We identify two molecular pathways that jointly drive translational control in PERK-deficient neurons. Haem-regulated inhibitor (HRI) mediates p-eIF2α and the ATF4 response and is complemented by the tRNA cleaving RNase angiogenin (ANG) to reduce protein synthesis. Overall, our study elucidates an intricate back-up mechanism to ascertain translational control during ER stress in neurons that provides a mechanistic explanation for the thus far unresolved observation of neuronal resilience to proteostatic stress.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere110501
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number16
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2022

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