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The proposed molecular mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative pathogenesis are varied, precluding the development of effective therapies for these increasingly prevalent disorders. One of the most consistent observations across neurodegenerative diseases is the phosphorylation of eukaryotic initiation factor 2α (eIF2α). eIF2α is a translation initiation factor, involved in cap-dependent protein translation, which when phosphorylated causes global translation attenuation. eIF2α phosphorylation is mediated by 4 kinases, which, together with their downstream signaling cascades, constitute the integrated stress response (ISR). While the ISR is activated by stresses commonly observed in neurodegeneration, such as oxidative stress, endoplasmic reticulum stress, and inflammation, it is a canonically adaptive signaling cascade. However, chronic activation of the ISR can contribute to neurodegenerative phenotypes such as neuronal death, memory impairments, and protein aggregation via apoptotic induction and other maladaptive outcomes downstream of phospho-eIF2α-mediated translation inhibition, including neuroinflammation and altered amyloidogenic processing, plausibly in a feed-forward manner. This review examines evidence that dysregulated eIF2a phosphorylation acts as a driver of neurodegeneration, including a survey of observations of ISR signaling in human disease, inspection of the overlap between ISR signaling and neurodegenerative phenomenon, and assessment of recent encouraging findings ameliorating neurodegeneration using developing pharmacological agents which target the ISR. In doing so, gaps in the field, including crosstalk of the ISR kinases and consideration of ISR signaling in nonneuronal central nervous system cell types, are highlighted. © 2020 American Association of Neuropathologists, Inc. All rights reserved.


Sarah Bond, Claudia Lopez-Lloreda, Patrick J Gannon, Cagla Akay-Espinoza, Kelly L Jordan-Sciutto. The Integrated Stress Response and Phosphorylated Eukaryotic Initiation Factor 2α in Neurodegeneration. Journal of neuropathology and experimental neurology. 2020 Feb 01;79(2):123-143

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PMID: 31913484

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