Although the stress response in eukaryotes depends on early events triggered in cells by environmental insults, long-term processes such as aging are also affected. The loss of cellular proteostasis greatly impacts aging, which is regulated by the balancing of protein synthesis and degradation systems. As translation is the input event in proteostasis, we decided to study the role of translational activity on cell lifespan. Our hypothesis was that a reduction on translational activity or specific changes in translation may increase cellular longevity.

Using mutant strains of Schizosaccharomyces pombe and various stress conditions, we showed that translational reduction caused by phosphorylation of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 (eIF2) during the exponential growth phase enhances chronological lifespan (CLS). Furthermore, through next-generation sequence analysis, we found eIF2α phosphorylation-dependent translational activation of some specific genes, especially those involved in autophagy. This fact, together with the observed regulation of autophagy, points to a conserved mechanism involving general and specific control of translation and autophagy as mediators of the role of eIF2α phosphorylation in aging.