Publication Type:Journal Article
Source:Sci Rep, Volume 7, Issue 1, p.13832 (2017)
Accumulation of unfolded and potentially toxic proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) activates a cell stress adaptive response, which involves a reprogramming of general gene expression. ATF4 is a master stress-induced transcription factor that orchestrates gene expression in cells treated with various ER stress inducers including those used to treat cancers. ER stress-induced ATF4 expression occurs mainly at the translational level involving the activity of the phosphorylated (P) translation initiation factor (eIF) eIF2α. While it is well established that under ER stress PeIF2α drives ATF4 expression through a specialised mode of translation re-initiation, factors (e.g. RNA-binding proteins and specific eIFs) involved in PeIF2α-mediated ATF4 translation remain unknown. Here we identified the RNA-binding protein named DDX3 as a promotor of ATF4 expression in cancer cells treated with sorafenib, an ER stress inducer used as a chemotherapeutic. Depletion experiments showed that DDX3 is required for PeIF2α-mediated ATF4 expression. Luciferase and polyribosomes assays showed that DDX3 drives ER stress-induced ATF4 mRNA expression at the translational level. Protein-interaction assays showed that DDX3 binds the eIF4F complex, which we found to be required for ER stress-induced ATF4 expression. This study thus showed that PeIF2α-mediated ATF4 mRNA translation requires DDX3 as a part of the eIF4F complex.