Elongation factor-2 kinase regulates autophagy in human glioblastoma cells

Hao Wu, Jin Ming Yang, Shengkan Jin, Haiyan Zhang, William N. Hait

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123 Scopus citations


Elongation factor-2 kinase (eEF-2 kinase), also known as Ca 2+/calmodulin-dependent kinase III, regulates protein synthesis by controlling the rate of peptide chain elongation. The activity of eEF-2 kinase is increased in glioblastoma and other malignancies, yet its role in neoplasia is uncertain. Recent evidence suggests that autophagy plays an important role in oncogenesis and that this can be regulated by mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Because eEF-2 kinase lies downstream of mTOR, we studied the role of eEF-2 kinase in autophagy using human glioblastoma cell lines. Knockdown of eEF-2 kinase by RNA interference inhibited autophagy in glioblastoma cell lines, as measured by light chain 3 (LC3)-II formation, acidic vesicular organelle staining, and electron microscopy. In contrast, overexpression of eEF-2 kinase increased autophagy. Furthermore, inhibition of autophagy markedly decreased the viability of glioblastoma cells grown under conditions of nutrient depletion. Nutrient deprivation increased eEF-2 kinase activity and decreased the activity of S6 kinase, suggesting an involvement of mTOR pathway in the eEF-2 kinase regulation of autophagy. These results suggest that eEF-2 kinase plays a regulatory role in the autophagic process in tumor cells; and eEF-2 kinase is a downstream member of the mTOR signaling; eEF-2 kinase may promote cancer cell survival under conditions of nutrient deprivation through regulating autophagy. Therefore, eEF-2 kinase may be a part of a survival mechanism in glioblastoma and targeting this kinase may represent a novel approach to cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3015-3023
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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