A network of RNA-binding proteins controls translation efficiency to activate anaerobic metabolism

Ho, J. J. David, et al. “A Network of RNA-Binding Proteins Controls Translation Efficiency to Activate Anaerobic Metabolism.” Nature Communications, vol. 11, no. 1, 2020, doi:10.1038/s41467-020-16504-1.


Protein expression evolves under greater evolutionary constraint than mRNA levels, and translation efficiency represents a primary determinant of protein levels during stimuli adaptation. This raises the question as to the translatome remodelers that titrate protein output from mRNA populations. Here, we uncover a network of RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) that enhances the translation efficiency of glycolytic proteins in cells responding to oxygen deprivation. A system-wide proteomic survey of translational engagement identifies a family of oxygen-regulated RBPs that functions as a switch of glycolytic intensity. Tandem mass tag-pulse SILAC (TMT-pSILAC) and RNA sequencing reveals that each RBP controls a unique but overlapping portfolio of hypoxic responsive proteins. These RBPs collaborate with the hypoxic protein synthesis apparatus, operating as a translation efficiency checkpoint that integrates upstream mRNA signals to activate anaerobic metabolism. This system allows anoxia-resistant animals and mammalian cells to initiate anaerobic glycolysis and survive hypoxia. We suggest that an oxygen-sensitive RBP cluster controls anaerobic metabolism to confer hypoxia tolerance.