Cytosolic aspartate aminotransferase moonlights as a ribosome binding modulator of Gcn2 activity during oxidative stress

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Regulation of translation is a fundamental facet of the cellular response to rapidly changing external conditions. Specific RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) co-ordinate the translational regulation of distinct mRNA cohorts during stress. To identify RBPs with previously under-appreciated roles in translational control, we used polysome profiling and mass spectrometry to identify and quantify proteins associated with translating ribosomes in unstressed yeast cells and during oxidative stress and amino acid starvation, which both induce the integrated stress response (ISR). Over 800 proteins were identified across polysome gradient fractions, including ribosomal proteins, translation factors and many others without previously described translation-related roles, including numerous metabolic enzymes. We identified variations in patterns of polysome enrichment in both unstressed and stressed cells and identified proteins enriched in heavy polysomes during stress. Genetic screening of polysome-enriched RBPs identified the cytosolic aspartate aminotransferase, Aat2, as a ribosome-associated protein whose deletion conferred growth sensitivity to oxidative stress. Loss of Aat2 caused aberrantly high activation of the ISR via enhanced eIF2α phosphorylation and GCN4 activation. Importantly, non-catalytic AAT2 mutants retained polysome association and did not show heightened stress sensitivity. Aat2 therefore has a separate ribosome-associated translational regulatory or ‘moonlighting’ function that modulates the ISR independent of its aspartate aminotransferase activity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere73466
Early online date27 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2022


  • Aspartate Aminotransferases/genetics
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Polyribosomes/metabolism
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • RNA-Binding Proteins/metabolism
  • Ribosomal Proteins/genetics
  • Ribosomes/metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins/genetics


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