Stress-mediated translational control in cancer cells

Gabriel Leprivier, Barak Rotblat, Debjit Khan, Eric Jan, Poul H. Sorensen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Tumor cells are continually subjected to diverse stress conditions of the tumor microenvironment, including hypoxia, nutrient deprivation, and oxidative or genotoxic stress. Tumor cells must evolve adaptive mechanisms to survive these conditions to ultimately drive tumor progression. Tight control of mRNA translation is critical for this response and the adaptation of tumor cells to such stress forms. This proceeds though a translational reprogramming process which restrains overall translation activity to preserve energy and nutrients, but which also stimulates the selective synthesis of major stress adaptor proteins. Here we present the different regulatory signaling pathways which coordinate mRNA translation in the response to different stress forms, including those regulating eIF2α, mTORC1 and eEF2K, and we explain how tumor cells hijack these pathways for survival under stress. Finally, mechanisms for selective mRNA translation under stress, including the utilization of upstream open reading frames (uORFs) and internal ribosome entry sites (IRESes) are discussed in the context of cell stress. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Translation and Cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)845-860
Number of pages16
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Gene Regulatory Mechanisms
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2015


  • EEF2K
  • EIF2alpha
  • MRNA translation control
  • MTORC1
  • Stress response
  • Tumor adaptation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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