Molecular control of the amount, subcellular location, and activity state of translation elongation factor 2 in neurons experiencing stress

Sandro Argüelles, Simonetta Camandola, Emmette R. Hutchison, Roy G. Cutler, Antonio Ayala, Mark P. Mattson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Eukaryotic elongation factor 2 (eEF-2) is an important regulator of the protein translation machinery whereby it controls the movement of the ribosome along the mRNA. The activity of eEF-2 is regulated by changes in cellular energy status and nutrient availability and by posttranslational modifications such as phosphorylation and mono-ADP-ribosylation. However, the mechanisms regulating protein translation under conditions of cellular stress in neurons are unknown. Here we show that when rat hippocampal neurons experience oxidative stress (lipid peroxidation induced by exposure to cumene hydroperoxide; CH), eEF-2 is hyperphosphorylated and ribosylated, resulting in reduced translational activity. The degradation of eEF-2 requires calpain proteolytic activity and is accompanied by accumulation of eEF-2 in the nuclear compartment. The subcellular localization of both native and phosphorylated forms of eEF-2 is influenced by CRM1 and 14.3.3, respectively. In hippocampal neurons p53 interacts with nonphosphorylated (active) eEF-2, but not with its phosphorylated form. The p53-eEF-2 complexes are present in cytoplasm and nucleus, and their abundance increases when neurons experience oxidative stress. The nuclear localization of active eEF-2 depends upon its interaction with p53, as cells lacking p53 contain less active eEF-2 in the nuclear compartment. Overexpression of eEF-2 in hippocampal neurons results in increased nuclear levels of eEF-2 and decreased cell death after exposure to CH. Our results reveal novel molecular mechanisms controlling the differential subcellular localization and activity state of eEF-2 that may influence the survival status of neurons during periods of elevated oxidative stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-71
Number of pages11
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
StatePublished - 2013


  • 14.3.3
  • CRM1
  • eEF-2
  • Eukaryotic elongation factor 2
  • Free radicals
  • Hippocampal neurons
  • Lipid peroxidation
  • p53

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)
  • General Medicine


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