Translation is a fundamental cellular process, and its dysregulation can contribute to human diseases such as cancer. During translation initiation the eukaryotic initiation factor 2 (eIF2) forms a ternary complex (TC) with GTP and the initiator methionyl-tRNA (tRNAi), mediating ribosomal recruitment of tRNAi. Limiting TC availability is a central mechanism for triggering the integrated stress response (ISR), which suppresses global translation in response to various cellular stresses, but induces specific proteins such as ATF4. This study shows that OLA1, a member of the ancient Obg family of GTPases, is an eIF2-regulatory protein that inhibits protein synthesis and promotes ISR by binding eIF2, hydrolyzing GTP, and interfering with TC formation. OLA1 thus represents a novel mechanism of translational control affecting de novo TC formation, different from the traditional model in which phosphorylation of eIF2α blocks the regeneration of TC. Depletion of OLA1 caused a hypoactive ISR and greater survival in stressed cells. In vivo, OLA1-knockdown rendered cancer cells deficient in ISR and the downstream proapoptotic effector, CHOP, promoting tumor growth and metastasis. Our work suggests that OLA1 is a novel translational GTPase and plays a suppressive role in translation and cell survival, as well as cancer growth and progression.
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