Mammalian stringent-like response mediated by the cytosolic NADPH phosphatase MESH1
Nutrient deprivation triggers stringent response in bacteria, allowing rapid reallocation of resources from proliferation toward stress survival. Critical to this process is the accumulation/degradation of (p)ppGpp regulated by the RelA/SpoT homologues. While mammalian genomes encode MESH1, a homologue of the bacterial (p)ppGpp hydrolase SpoT, neither (p)ppGpp nor its synthetase has been identified in mammalian cells. Therefore, the function of MESH1 remains a mystery. Here, we report that human MESH1 is an efficient cytosolic NADPH phosphatase, an unexpected enzymatic activity that is captured by the crystal structure of the MESH1-NADPH complex. MESH1 depletion promotes cell survival under ferroptosis-inducing conditions by sustaining the level of NADPH, an effect that is reversed by the simultaneous depletion of the cytosolic NAD(H) kinase, NADK, but not its mitochondrial counterpart NADK2. Importantly, MESH1 depletion also triggers extensive transcriptional changes that are distinct from the canonical integrated stress response but resemble the bacterial stringent response, implicating MESH1 in a previously uncharacterized stress response in mammalian cells.