O-GlcNAcylation alters the selection of mRNAs for translation and promotes 4E-BP1–dependent mitochondrial dysfunction in the retina.

Dierschke SK, Miller WP, Favate JS, Shah P, Kawasawa YI, Salzberg AC, Kimball SR, Jefferson LS, and Dennis MD

Jour Biol Chem 294 (14) : 5508-5520



Diabetes promotes the posttranslational modification of proteins by O-linked addition of GlcNAc (O-GlcNAcylation) to Ser/Thr residues of proteins and thereby contributes to diabetic complications. In the retina of diabetic mice, the repressor of mRNA translation, eIF4E-binding protein 1 (4E-BP1), is O-GlcNAcylated, and sequestration of the cap-binding protein eukaryotic translation initiation factor (eIF4E) is enhanced. O-GlcNAcylation has also been detected on several eukaryotic translation initiation factors and ribosomal proteins. However, the functional consequence of this modification is unknown. Here, using ribosome profiling, we evaluated the effect of enhanced O-GlcNAcylation on retinal gene expression. Mice receiving thiamet G (TMG), an inhibitor of the O-GlcNAc hydrolase O-GlcNAcase, exhibited enhanced retinal protein O-GlcNAcylation. The principal effect of TMG on retinal gene expression was observed in ribosome-associated mRNAs (i.e. mRNAs undergoing translation), as less than 1% of mRNAs exhibited changes in abundance. Remarkably, ∼19% of the transcriptome exhibited TMG-induced changes in ribosome occupancy, with 1912 mRNAs having reduced and 1683 mRNAs having increased translational rates. In the retina, the effect of O-GlcNAcase inhibition on translation of specific mitochondrial proteins, including superoxide dismutase 2 (SOD2), depended on 4E-BP1/2. O-GlcNAcylation enhanced cellular respiration and promoted mitochondrial superoxide levels in WT cells, and 4E-BP1/2 deletion prevented O-GlcNAcylation-induced mitochondrial superoxide in cells in culture and in the retina. The retina of diabetic WT mice exhibited increased reactive oxygen species levels, an effect not observed in diabetic 4E-BP1/2-deficient mice. These findings provide evidence for a mechanism whereby diabetes-induced O-GlcNAcylation promotes oxidative stress in the retina by altering the selection of mRNAs for translation.