CDK7 is a component of the integrated stress response regulating SNAT2 (SLC38A2)/System A adaptation in response to cellular amino acid deprivation

Clare Stretton, Christopher Lipina, Russell Hyde, Emma Cwiklinski, Thorsten M. Hoffmann, Peter M. Taylor, Harinder S. Hundal (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
257 Downloads (Pure)


Extracellular amino acid (AA) withdrawal/restriction invokes an integrated stress response (ISR) that induces global suppression of protein synthesis whilst allowing transcription and translation of a select group of genes, whose protein products facilitate cellular adaptation to AA insufficiency. Transcriptional induction of the System A/SNAT2 AA transporter represents a classic adaptation response and crucially depends upon activation of the General Control Nonderepressible-2 kinase/Activating transcription factor 4 (GCN2/ATF4) pathway. However, the ISR may also include additional signalling inputs operating in conjunction or independently of GCN2/ATF4 to upregulate SNAT2. Herein, we show that whilst pharmacological inhibition of MEK-ERK, mTORC1 and p38 MAP kinase signalling has no detectable effect on System A upregulation, inhibitors targeting GSK3 (e.g. SB415286) caused significant repression of the SNAT2 adaptation response. Strikingly, the effects of SB415286 persist in cells in which GSK3α/β have been stably silenced indicating an off-target effect. We show that SB415286 can also inhibit cyclin-dependent kinases (CDK) and that roscovitine and flavopiridol (two pan CDK inhibitors) are effective repressors of the SNAT2 adaptive response. In particular, our work reveals that CDK7 activity is upregulated in AA-deprived cells in a GCN-2-dependent manner and that a potent and selective CDK7 inhibitor, THZ-1, not only attenuates the increase in ATF4 expression but blocks System A adaptation. Importantly, the inhibitory effects of THZ-1 on System A adaptation are mitigated in cells expressing a doxycycline-inducible drug-resistant form of CDK7. Our data identify CDK7 as a novel component of the ISR regulating System A adaptation in response to AA insufficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)978-991
Number of pages14
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular Cell Research
Issue number6
Early online date8 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • ATF4
  • GCN2
  • GSK3
  • Me-AIB
  • Roscovitine
  • Transporter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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