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

J. J.David Ho, Nathan C. Balukoff, Phaedra R. Theodoridis, Miling Wang, Jonathan R. Krieger, Jonathan H. Schatz, Stephen Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2677
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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