The role of eukaryotic initiation factor 2α during the metabolic depression associated with estivation

Julian L. Pakay, Andrew A. Hobbs, Scot R. Kimball, Michael Guppy

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13 Scopus citations


We have investigated the role of eukaryotic initiation factor 2α (eIF2α) in two estivating organisms previously shown to downregulate protein synthesis during metabolic depression, the land snail Helix aspersa Müller and the desert frog Neobatrachus sutor Main 1957. We have developed a method using a single antibody (which binds specifically to the phosphorylated, conserved phosphorylation region) by which the total levels of eIF2α and the ratio of phosphorylated eIF2α [eIF2α(P)] to total (phosphorylated and unphosphorylated) eIF2α can be determined. In H. aspersa, we have shown that the level of eIF2α mRNA expression is unchanged between the awake and estivating states. The amount of total eIF2α is the same in the estivating and awake states, and eIF2α(P) is undetectable and must represent ≤10% of total eIF2α in both states. Conversely, in N. sutor during estivation, the level of total eIF2α increases approximately 1.6-fold and the ratio of eIF2α(P)/eIF2α increases from 0.22±0.11 to 0.52±0.08, implicating eIF2α phosphorylation in the downregulation of protein synthesis during estivation in this animal. The differences in the amounts of eIF2α and the level of its phosphorylation between these two species also suggest possible differences either in the mechanism by which protein synthesis is downregulated during estivation or in the sensitivity of the initiation of translation to eIF2α(P) levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2363-2371
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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