Metabolic-stress sensing protein kinase that phosphorylates the alpha subunit of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 (EIF2S1/eIF-2-alpha) in response to low amino acid availability. Plays a role as an activator of the integrated stress response (ISR) required for adaptation to amino acid starvation. EIF2S1/eIF-2-alpha phosphorylation in response to stress converts EIF2S1/eIF-2-alpha in a global protein synthesis inhibitor, leading to a global attenuation of cap-dependent translation, and thus to a reduced overall utilization of amino acids, while concomitantly initiating the preferential translation of ISR-specific mRNAs, such as the transcriptional activator ATF4, and hence allowing ATF4-mediated reprogramming of amino acid biosynthetic gene expression to alleviate nutrient depletion. Binds uncharged tRNAs. Involved in cell cycle arrest by promoting cyclin D1 mRNA translation repression after the unfolded protein response pathway (UPR) activation or cell cycle inhibitor CDKN1A/p21 mRNA translation activation in response to amino acid deprivation. Plays a role in the consolidation of synaptic plasticity, learning as well as formation of long-term memory. Plays a role in neurite outgrowth inhibition. Plays a proapoptotic role in response to glucose deprivation. Promotes global cellular protein synthesis repression in response to UV irradiation independently of the stress-activated protein kinase/c-Jun N-terminal kinase (SAPK/JNK) and p38 MAPK signaling pathways. Plays a role in the antiviral response against alphavirus infection; impairs early viral mRNA translation of the incoming genomic virus RNA, thus preventing alphavirus replication.; (Microbial infection) Plays a role in modulating the adaptive immune response to yellow fever virus infection; promotes dendritic cells to initiate autophagy and antigene presentation to both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cells under amino acid starvation.