Elongation factor-2 kinase: Its role in protein synthesis and autophagy

William N. Hait, Hao Wu, Shenkan Jin, Jin Ming Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Elongation factor-2 kinase (eEF-2 kinase; Ca2+/calmodulin- dependent kinase III) controls the rate of peptide chain elongation. The activity of eEF-2 kinase is increased in many malignancies, yet its precise function in carcinogenesis remains unknown. Autophagy, a well-defined survival pathway in yeast, may also play an important role in oncogenesis. Furthermore, the autophagic response to nutrient deprivation is regulated by the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). eEF-2 kinase lies downstream of mTOR and is regulated by several kinases in this pathway. Therefore, we studied the role of eEF-2 kinase in autophagy. Knockdown of eEF-2 kinase by RNA interference inhibited autophagy in several cell types 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. These results suggest that eEF-2 kinase plays a regulatory role in the autophagic process in tumor cells and may promote cancer cell survival under conditions of nutrient deprivation. Therefore, eEF-2 kinase activation may be a part of a survival mechanism in glioblastoma, and targeting this kinase may represent a novel approach to cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-296
Number of pages3
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2006


  • Autophagy
  • Cancer
  • Elongation factor-2 kinase
  • Protein synthesis
  • Survival pathway

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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