DNA damage induces p53-independent apoptosis through ribosome stalling.


In response to excessive DNA damage, human cells can activate p53 to induce apoptosis. Cells lacking p53 can still undergo apoptosis upon DNA damage, yet the responsible pathways are unknown. We observed that p53-independent apoptosis in response to DNA damage coincided with translation inhibition, which was characterized by ribosome stalling on rare leucine-encoding UUA codons and globally curtailed translation initiation. A genetic screen identified the transfer RNAse SLFN11 and the kinase GCN2 as factors required for UUA stalling and global translation inhibition, respectively. Stalled ribosomes activated a ribotoxic stress signal conveyed by the ribosome sensor ZAKα to the apoptosis machinery. These results provide an explanation for the frequent inactivation of SLFN11 in chemotherapy-unresponsive tumors and highlight ribosome stalling as a signaling event affecting cell fate in response to DNA damage.

More about this publication

Science (New York, N.Y.)
  • Volume 384
  • Issue nr. 6697
  • Pages 785-792
  • Publication date 17-05-2024

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