Circadian Clock Control of Translation Initiation Factor eIF2α Activity Requires eIF2γ-Dependent Recruitment of Rhythmic PPP-1 Phosphatase in Neurospora crassa Academic Article uri icon


  • The circadian clock controls the phosphorylation and activity of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2α (eIF2α). In Neurospora crassa, the clock drives a daytime peak in the activity of the eIF2α kinase CPC-3, the homolog of yeast and mammalian GCN2 kinase. This leads to increased levels of phosphorylated eIF2α (P-eIF2α) and reduced mRNA translation initiation during the day. We hypothesized that rhythmic eIF2α activity also requires dephosphorylation of P-eIF2α at night by phosphatases. In support of this hypothesis, we show that mutation of N. crassa PPP-1, a homolog of the yeast eIF2α phosphatase GLC7, leads to high and arrhythmic P-eIF2α levels, while maintaining core circadian oscillator function. PPP-1 levels are clock-controlled, peaking in the early evening, and rhythmic PPP-1 levels are necessary for rhythmic P-eIF2α accumulation. Deletion of the N terminus of N. crassa eIF2γ, the region necessary for eIF2γ interaction with GLC7 in yeast, led to high and arrhythmic P-eIF2α levels. These data supported that N. crassa eIF2γ functions to recruit PPP-1 to dephosphorylate eIF2α at night. Thus, in addition to the activity of CPC-3 kinase, circadian clock regulation of eIF2α activity requires dephosphorylation by PPP-1 phosphatase at night. These data show how the circadian clock controls the activity a central regulator of translation, critical for cellular metabolism and growth control, through the temporal coordination of phosphorylation and dephosphorylation events.IMPORTANCE Circadian clock control of mRNA translation contributes to the daily cycling of a significant proportion of the cellular protein synthesis, but how this is accomplished is not understood. We discovered that the clock in the model fungus Neurospora crassa regulates rhythms in protein synthesis by controlling the phosphorylation and dephosphorylation of a conserved translation initiation factor eIF2α. During the day, N. crassa eIF2α is phosphorylated and inactivated by CPC-3 kinase. At night, a clock-controlled phosphatase, PPP-1, dephosphorylates and activates eIF2α, leading to increased nighttime protein synthesis. Translation requires significant cellular energy; thus, partitioning translation to the night by the clock provides a mechanism to coordinate energy metabolism with protein synthesis and cellular growth.

author list (cited authors)

  • Ding, Z., Lamb, T. M., Boukhris, A., Porter, R., & Bell-Pedersen, D.

publication date

  • January 1, 2021 11:11 AM

published in