This study shows that the eIF2 kinase PERK is required not only for translational control but also for activation of ATF6 and its target genes in the unfolded protein response. The PERK pathway facilitates both the synthesis of ATF6 and trafficking of ATF6 from the endoplasmic reticulum to the Golgi for intramembrane proteolysis and activation of ATF6.
Disruptions of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) that perturb protein folding cause ER stress and elicit an unfolded protein response (UPR) that involves translational and transcriptional changes in gene expression aimed at expanding the ER processing capacity and alleviating cellular injury. Three ER stress sensors (PERK, ATF6, and IRE1) implement the UPR. PERK phosphorylation of the α subunit of eIF2 during ER stress represses protein synthesis, which prevents further influx of ER client proteins. Phosphorylation of eIF2α (eIF2α∼P) also induces preferential translation of ATF4, a transcription activator of the integrated stress response. In this study we show that the PERK/eIF2α∼P/ATF4 pathway is required not only for translational control, but also for activation of ATF6 and its target genes. The PERK pathway facilitates both the synthesis of ATF6 and trafficking of ATF6 from the ER to the Golgi for intramembrane proteolysis and activation of ATF6. As a consequence, liver-specific depletion of PERK significantly reduces both the translational and transcriptional phases of the UPR, leading to reduced protein chaperone expression, disruptions of lipid metabolism, and enhanced apoptosis. These findings show that the regulatory networks of the UPR are fully integrated and help explain the diverse biological defects associated with loss of PERK.
To avoid excess accumulation of unfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), eukaryotic cells have signaling pathways from the ER to the cytosol or nucleus. These processes are collectively termed the ER stress response. Double stranded RNA activated protein kinase (PKR)-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) is a major transducer of the ER stress response and directly phosphorylates eIF2α, resulting in translational attenuation. Phosphorylated eIF2α specifically promotes the translation of the transcription factor ATF4. ATF4 plays important roles in osteoblast differentiation and bone formation. Perk−/− mice are reported to exhibit severe osteopenia, and the phenotypes observed in bone tissues are very similar to those of Atf4−/− mice. However, the involvement of the PERK-eIF2α-ATF4 signaling pathway in osteogenesis is unclear. Phosphorylated eIF2α and ATF4 protein levels were attenuated in Perk−/− calvariae, and the gene expression levels of osteocalcin (Ocn) and bone sialoprotein (Bsp), which are targets for ATF4, were also down-regulated. Treatment of wild-type primary osteoblasts with BMP2, which is required for osteoblast differentiation, induced ER stress, leading to an increase in ATF4 protein expression levels. In contrast, the level of ATF4 in Perk−/− osteoblasts was severely diminished. The results indicate that PERK signaling is required for ATF4 activation during osteoblast differentiation. Perk−/− osteoblasts exhibited decreased alkaline phosphatase activities and delayed mineralized nodule formation relative to wild-type cultures. These abnormalities were almost completely restored by the introduction of ATF4 into Perk−/− osteoblasts. Taken together, ER stress occurs during osteoblast differentiation and activates the PERK-eIF2α-ATF4 signaling pathway followed by the promotion of gene expression essential for osteogenesis, such as Ocn and Bsp.
Bone; Differentiation; ER Stress; Transcription Factors; Transcription Target Genes; Osteoblast
Phosphorylation of the alpha (α) subunit of the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 (eIF2) leads to the inhibition of protein synthesis in response to diverse stress conditions, including viral infection. The eIF2α kinase PKR has been shown to play an essential role against vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) infection. We demonstrate here that another eIF2α kinase, the endoplasmic reticulum-resident protein kinase PERK, contributes to cellular resistance to VSV infection. We demonstrate that mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) from PERK−/− mice are more susceptible to VSV-mediated apoptosis than PERK+/+ MEFs. The higher replication capacity of VSV in PERK−/− MEFs results from their inability to attenuate viral protein synthesis due to an impaired eIF2α phosphorylation. We also show that VSV-infected PERK−/− MEFs are unable to fully activate PKR, suggesting a cross talk between the two eIF2α kinases in virus-infected cells. These findings further implicate PERK in virus infection, and provide evidence that the antiviral and antiapoptotic roles of PERK are mediated, at least in part, via the activation of PKR.
Accumulation of unfolded protein within the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) lumen attenuates mRNA translation through activation of the protein kinase PERK and subsequent phosphorylation of eukaryotic initiation factor 2 on Ser51 of the alpha subunit (eIF2α). Genetic disruption of the PERK/eIF2α pathway in humans and mice produces severe pancreatic beta cell deficiency and post-natal lethality. To elucidate the role of eIF2α phosphorylation in beta cells, we have rescued the lethality of homozygous eIF2α Ser51Ala mice by expression of a loxP-flanked wild-type eIF2α transgene. Beta cell-specific transgene deletion to prevent eIF2α phosphorylation caused a severe diabetic phenotype due to heightened, unregulated proinsulin translation, defective intracellular trafficking of secretory and plasma membrane proteins, increased oxidative damage, reduced expression of stress response and beta cell-specific genes, and apoptosis. However, glucose intolerance and beta cell death in these mice were attenuated by antioxidant treatment. We conclude that phosphorylation of eIF2α coordinately attenuates mRNA translation, prevents oxidative stress, and optimizes ER protein folding to support insulin production in the beta cell. These findings that show increased proinsulin synthesis causes oxidative stress leading to beta cell failure may reflect events in the beta cell loss associated with insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes.
Shiga-toxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) produces subtilase cytotoxin (SubAB), which cleaves the molecular chaperone BiP in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), leading to an ER stress response and then activation of apoptotic signaling pathways. Here, we show that an early event in SubAB-induced apoptosis in HeLa cells is mediated by RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR)-like ER kinase (PERK), not activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6) or inositol-requiring enzyme 1(Ire1), two other ER stress sensors. PERK knockdown suppressed SubAB-induced eIF2α phosphorylation, activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) expression, caspase activation, and cytotoxicity. Knockdown of eIF2α by small interfering RNA (siRNA) or inhibition of eIF2α dephosphorylation by Sal003 enhanced SubAB-induced caspase activation. Treatment with proteasome inhibitors (i.e., MG132 and lactacystin), but not a general caspase inhibitor (Z-VAD) or a lysosome inhibitor (chloroquine), suppressed SubAB-induced caspase activation and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) cleavage, suggesting that the ubiquitin-proteasome system controls events leading to caspase activation, i.e., Bax/Bak conformational changes, followed by cytochrome c release from mitochondria. Levels of ubiquitinated proteins in HeLa cells were significantly decreased by SubAB treatment. Further, in an early event, some antiapoptotic proteins, which normally turn over rapidly, have their synthesis inhibited, and show enhanced degradation via the proteasome, resulting in apoptosis. In PERK knockdown cells, SubAB-induced loss of ubiquitinated proteins was inhibited. Thus, SubAB-induced ER stress is caused by BiP cleavage, leading to PERK activation, not by accumulation of ubiquitinated proteins, which undergo PERK-dependent degradation via the ubiquitin-proteasome system.
A deficiency in Perk (EIF2AK3) causes multiple neonatal defects in humans known as the Wolcott Rallison syndrome. Perk KO mice exhibit the same array of defects including permanent neonatal diabetes (PND). PND in mice was previously shown by us to be due to a decrease in beta cell proliferation and insulin secretion. The aim of this study was to determine if acute ablation of PERK in the 832/13 beta cells recapitulates these defects and to identify the primary molecular basis for beta cell dysfunction.
The INS1 832/13 transformed rat beta cell line was transduced with a dominant-negative Perk transgene via an adenoviral vector. AdDNPerk-832/13 beta cells exhibited reduced expression of insulin and MafA mRNAs, reduced insulin secretion, and reduced cell proliferation. Although proinsulin content was reduced in AdDNPerk-832/13 beta cells, proinsulin was abnormally retained in the endoplasmic reticulum. A temporal study of the acute ablation of Perk revealed that the earliest defect seen was induced expression of two ER chaperone proteins, GRP78/BiP and ERp72. The oxidized states of ERp72 and ERp57 were also increased suggesting an imbalance in the redox state of the ER.
Acute ablation of Perk in INS 832/13 beta cells exhibited all of the major defects seen in Perk KO mice and revealed abnormal expression and redox state of key ER chaperone proteins. Dysregulation of ER chaperone/folding enzymes ERp72 and GRP78/BiP occurred early after ablation of PERK function suggesting that changes in ER secretory functions may give rise to the other defects including reduced insulin gene expression, secretion, and cell proliferation.
Phosphorylation of the α-subunit of initiation factor 2 (eIF2) controls protein synthesis by a conserved mechanism. In metazoa, distinct stress conditions activate different eIF2α kinases (PERK, PKR, GCN2, and HRI) that converge on phosphorylating a unique serine in eIF2α. This collection of signaling pathways is termed the ‘integrated stress response’ (ISR). eIF2α phosphorylation diminishes protein synthesis, while allowing preferential translation of some mRNAs. Starting with a cell-based screen for inhibitors of PERK signaling, we identified a small molecule, named ISRIB, that potently (IC50 = 5 nM) reverses the effects of eIF2α phosphorylation. ISRIB reduces the viability of cells subjected to PERK-activation by chronic endoplasmic reticulum stress. eIF2α phosphorylation is implicated in memory consolidation. Remarkably, ISRIB-treated mice display significant enhancement in spatial and fear-associated learning. Thus, memory consolidation is inherently limited by the ISR, and ISRIB releases this brake. As such, ISRIB promises to contribute to our understanding and treatment of cognitive disorders.
The synthesis of proteins is an essential step in many biological processes, including memory, and drugs that inhibit protein synthesis are known to impair memory in rodents. It is thought that the brain needs these proteins to convert short-term memories into long-term memories through a process known as consolidation.
A protein called EIF2α has a key role in the regulation of protein synthesis, and has also been implicated in memory. EIF2α can be activated as a result of being phosphorylated by any of four protein kinases: these are in turn activated by processes that subject cells to stress, such as viral infection, UV light or—in the case of a kinase known as PERK—the accumulation of unfolded proteins in a cellular organelle called the endoplasmic reticulum. Activation of EIF2α downregulates most protein synthesis inside the cell, but upregulates the production of a small number of key regulatory molecules: these changes help cells to cope with whatever stressful event they have just experienced.
To obtain further insight into the cellular stress response, Sidrauski et al. screened a large library of compounds in search of one that inhibits PERK. They identified a molecule—known as ISRIB—which acts downstream of all four protein kinases by reversing the effects of EIF2α phosphorylation. ISRIB is the first molecule shown to have this effect, and thus represents an important tool for investigating the stress response inside cells.
When Sidrauski et al. injected ISRIB into mice, the animals showed improved memory: for example, they learnt to locate a hidden platform in a water maze more rapidly than controls. This suggests that ISRIB could be used to explore the mechanisms that underlie memory consolidation, and possibly even as a memory enhancer. Moreover, given that many tumor cells exploit the cellular stress response to aid their own growth, ISRIB may have potential as a novel chemotherapeutic agent.
eIF2; eIF2B; ATF4; integrated stress response; unfolded protein response; memory consolidation; Human; Mouse; Rat
Background: PERK controls unfolded protein load in the ER and promotes a latent gene expression program whose relative contributions to cell physiology are incompletely understood.
Results: Acute PERK inhibition deregulates protein synthesis and promotes accumulation of misfolded pro-insulin.
Conclusion: PERK contributes to proteostasis acutely.
Significance: The proteostatic activity of PERK can be uncoupled from its latent role in gene expression.
Loss-of-function mutations in EIF2AK3, encoding the pancreatic endoplasmic reticulum (ER) kinase, PERK, are associated with dysfunction of the endocrine pancreas and diabetes. However, to date it has not been possible to uncouple the long term developmental effects of PERK deficiency from sensitization to physiological levels of ER unfolded protein stress upon interruption of PERK modulation of protein synthesis rates. Here, we report that a selective PERK inhibitor acutely deregulates protein synthesis in freshly isolated islets of Langerhans, across a range of glucose concentrations. Acute loss of the PERK-mediated strand of the unfolded protein response leads to rapid accumulation of misfolded pro-insulin in cultured beta cells and is associated with a kinetic defect in pro-insulin processing. These in vitro observations uncouple the latent role of PERK in beta cell development from the regulation of unfolded protein flux through the ER and attest to the importance of the latter in beta cell proteostasis.
Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress; Insulin Synthesis; Pancreatic Islets; Protein Misfolding; Protein Synthesis; Unfolded Protein Response; Insulin Metabolism; Translation Initiation
Phosphorylation of eukaryotic initiation factor 2α (eIF-2α) is typically associated with stress responses and causes a reduction in protein synthesis. However, we found high phosphorylated eIF-2α (eIF-2α[P]) levels in nonstressed pancreata of mice. Administration of glucose stimulated a rapid dephosphorylation of eIF-2α. Among the four eIF-2α kinases present in mammals, PERK is most highly expressed in the pancreas, suggesting that it may be responsible for the high eIF-2α[P] levels found therein. We describe a Perk knockout mutation in mice. Pancreata of Perk−/− mice are morphologically and functionally normal at birth, but the islets of Langerhans progressively degenerate, resulting in loss of insulin-secreting beta cells and development of diabetes mellitus, followed later by loss of glucagon-secreting alpha cells. The exocrine pancreas exhibits a reduction in the synthesis of several major digestive enzymes and succumbs to massive apoptosis after the fourth postnatal week. Perk−/− mice also exhibit skeletal dysplasias at birth and postnatal growth retardation. Skeletal defects include deficient mineralization, osteoporosis, and abnormal compact bone development. The skeletal and pancreatic defects are associated with defects in the rough endoplasmic reticulum of the major secretory cells that comprise the skeletal system and pancreas. The skeletal, pancreatic, and growth defects are similar to those seen in human Wolcott-Rallison syndrome.
Loss-of-function mutations in Perk (EIF2AK3) result in permanent neonatal diabetes in humans (Wolcott-Rallison Syndrome) and mice. Previously, we found that diabetes associated with Perk deficiency resulted from insufficient proliferation of β-cells and from defects in insulin secretion. A substantial fraction of PERK-deficient β-cells display a highly abnormal cellular phenotype characterized by grossly distended endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and retention of proinsulin. We investigated over synthesis, lack of ER-associated degradation (ERAD), and defects in ER to Golgi trafficking as possible causes.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
ER functions of PERK were investigated in cell culture and mice in which Perk was impaired or gene dosage modulated. The Ins2+/Akita mutant mice were used as a model system to test the role of PERK in ERAD.
We report that loss of Perk function does not lead to uncontrolled protein synthesis but impaired ER-to-Golgi anterograde trafficking, retrotranslocation from the ER to the cytoplasm, and proteasomal degradation. PERK was also shown to be required to maintain the integrity of the ER and Golgi and processing of ATF6. Moreover, decreasing Perk dosage surprisingly ameliorates the progression of the Akita mutants toward diabetes.
PERK is a positive regulator of ERAD and proteasomal activity. Reducing PERK activity ameliorates the progression of diabetes in the Akita mouse, whereas increasing PERK dosage hastens its progression. We speculate that PERK acts as a metabolic sensor in the insulin-secreting β-cells to modulate the trafficking and quality control of proinsulin in the ER relative to the physiological demands for circulating insulin.
PKR-like endoplasmic reticulum (ER) kinase (PERK) is an ER-associated stress sensor protein which phosphorylates eukaryotic initiation factor 2α (eIF2α) to induce translation attenuation in response to ER stress. PERK is also a regulator of lipogenesis during adipocyte differentiation through activation of the cleavage of sterol regulatory element binding protein 1 (SREBP1), resulting in the upregulation of lipogenic enzymes. Our recent studies have shown that human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection in human fibroblasts (HF) induces adipocyte-like lipogenesis through the activation of SREBP1. Here, we report that PERK expression is highly increased in HCMV-infected cells and is necessary for HCMV growth. Depletion of PERK, using short hairpin RNA (shRNA), resulted in attenuation of HCMV growth, inhibition of lipid synthesis and reduction of lipogenic gene expression. Examination of the cleavage of SREBP proteins showed PERK depletion inhibited the cleavage of SREBP1, but not SREBP2, in HCMV-infected cells, suggesting different cleavage regulatory mechanisms for SREBP1 and 2. Further studies showed that the depletion of SREBP1, but not SREBP2, reduced lipid synthesis in HCMV infection, suggesting that activation of SREBP1 is sufficient to induce lipogenesis in HCMV infection. The reduction of lipid synthesis by PERK depletion can be partially restored by expressing a Flag-tagged nuclear form of SREBP1a. Our studies also suggest that the induction of PERK in HCMV-infected cells stimulates SREBP1 cleavage by reducing levels of Insig1 (Insulin inducible gene 1) protein; this occurs independent of the phosphorylation of eIF2α. Introduction of an exogenous Insig1-Myc into HCMV infected cells significantly reduced HCMV growth and lipid synthesis. Our data demonstrate that the induction of PERK during HCMV infection is necessary for full activation of lipogenesis; this effect appears to be mediated by limiting the levels of Insig1 thus freeing SREBP1-SCAP complexes for SREBP1 processing.
HCMV, a β-herpesvirus, is a significant pathogen which infects most of the human population by puberty. Primary HCMV infection can be unnoticed in healthy people, but can be life threatening for the immunocompromised and it is the most important cause of congenital infection in the developed world, frequently leading to deafness, mental retardation and developmental disability. HCMV infection alters cellular signaling and metabolism in order to establish and maintain an optimal cellular environment that can accommodate the increased demands for nutrients, energy, and macromolecular synthesis that accompany viral infection. On the other hand, increased demands for nutrients, energy and increased protein loading to the ER can induce ER stress, particularly the unfolded protein response (UPR). HCMV induces the UPR in infected cells but also highly regulates its effects. Our recent studies showed HCMV infection can also induce adipocyte-like lipogenesis by activation of the transcription factor SREBP1. We now provide evidence that the induction of the UPR is connected to lipogenic activation during HCMV infection. We show that the ER stress sensor protein, PERK, is critical for lipogenic activation induced during HCMV infection.
The unfolded protein response (UPR) is activated upon the accumulation of misfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), that are sensed by the binding immunoglobulin protein (BiP)/glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78). The accumulation of unfolded proteins sequesters BiP so it dissociates from three ER-transmembrane transducers leading to their activation. These transducers are inositol requiring (IRE) 1α, PKR-like ER kinase (PERK) and activating transcription factor (ATF) 6α. PERK phosphorylates eukaryotic initiation factor 2 alpha (eIF2α) resulting in global mRNA translation attenuation, and concurrently selectively increases the translation of several mRNAs, including the transcription factor ATF4, and its downstream target CHOP. IRE1α has kinase and endoribonuclease (RNase) activities. IRE1α autophosphorylation activates the RNase activity to cleave XBP1 mRNA, to produce the active transcription factor sXBP1. IRE1α activation also recruits and activates the stress kinase JNK. ATF6α transits to the Golgi compartment where it is cleaved by intramembrane proteolysis to generate a soluble active transcription factor. These UPR pathways act in concert to increase ER content, expand the ER protein folding capacity, degrade misfolded proteins, and reduce the load of new proteins entering the ER. All of these are geared toward adaptation to resolve the protein folding defect. Faced with persistent ER stress, adaptation starts to fail and apoptosis occurs, possibly mediated through calcium perturbations, reactive oxygen species, and the proapoptotic transcription factor CHOP. The UPR is activated in several liver diseases; including obesity associated fatty liver disease, viral hepatitis and alcohol-induced liver injury, all of which are associated with steatosis, raising the possibility that ER stress-dependent alteration in lipid homeostasis is the mechanism that underlies the steatosis. Hepatocyte apoptosis is a pathogenic event in several liver diseases, and may be linked to unresolved ER stress. If this is true, restoration of ER homeostasis prior to ER stress-induced cell death may provide a therapeutic rationale in these diseases. Here we discuss each branch of the UPR and how they may impact hepatocyte function in different pathologic states.
Deficiency of the PERK eIF2α kinase in humans and mice results in postnatal exocrine pancreatic atrophy as well as severe growth and metabolic anomalies in other organs and tissues. To determine if the exocrine pancreatic atrophy is due to a cell-autonomous defect, the Perk gene was specifically ablated in acinar cells of the exocrine pancreas in mice.
We show that expression of PERK in the acinar cells is required to maintain their viability but is not required for normal protein synthesis and secretion. Exocrine pancreatic atrophy in PERK-deficient mice was previously attributed to uncontrolled ER-stress followed by apoptotic cell death based on studies in cultured fibroblasts. However, we have found no evidence for perturbations in the endoplasmic reticulum or ER-stress and show that acinar cells succumb to a non-apoptotic form of cell death, oncosis, which is associated with a pronounced inflammatory response and induction of the pancreatitis stress response genes. We also show that mice carrying a knockout mutation of PERK's downstream target, ATF4, exhibit pancreatic deficiency caused by developmental defects and that mice ablated for ATF4's transcriptional target CHOP have a normal exocrine pancreas.
We conclude that PERK modulates secretory capacity of the exocrine pancreas by regulating cell viability of acinar cells.
In response to environmental stress, cells induce a program of gene expression designed to remedy cellular damage or, alternatively, induce apoptosis. In this report, we explore the role of a family of protein kinases that phosphorylate eukaryotic initiation factor 2 (eIF2) in coordinating stress gene responses. We find that expression of activating transcription factor 3 (ATF3), a member of the ATF/CREB subfamily of basic-region leucine zipper (bZIP) proteins, is induced in response to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress or amino acid starvation by a mechanism requiring eIF2 kinases PEK (Perk or EIF2AK3) and GCN2 (EIF2AK4), respectively. Increased expression of ATF3 protein occurs early in response to stress by a mechanism requiring the related bZIP transcriptional regulator ATF4. ATF3 contributes to induction of the CHOP transcriptional factor in response to amino acid starvation, and loss of ATF3 function significantly lowers stress-induced expression of GADD34, an eIF2 protein phosphatase regulatory subunit implicated in feedback control of the eIF2 kinase stress response. Overexpression of ATF3 in mouse embryo fibroblasts partially bypasses the requirement for PEK for induction of GADD34 in response to ER stress, further supporting the idea that ATF3 functions directly or indirectly as a transcriptional activator of genes targeted by the eIF2 kinase stress pathway. These results indicate that ATF3 has an integral role in the coordinate gene expression induced by eIF2 kinases. Given that ATF3 is induced by a very large number of environmental insults, this study supports involvement of eIF2 kinases in the coordination of gene expression in response to a more diverse set of stress conditions than previously proposed.
The unfolded protein response (UPR) is a coordinated program that promotes cell survival under conditions of ER stress and is required in tumor progression as well. To date, no specific small molecule inhibitor targeting this pathway has been identified. PERK, one of the UPR transducers, is an eIF2α kinase. Compromising PERK function inhibits tumor growth in mice, suggesting that PERK may be a cancer drug target, but identifying a specific inhibitor of any kinase is challenging. The goal of this study was to identify some pair-wise receptor-ligand atomic contacts that confer selective PERK inhibition. Compounds selectively inhibiting PERK-mediated phosphorylation in vitro were identified using an initial virtual library screen, followed by structure-activity hypothesis testing. The most potent PERK selective inhibitors utilize three specific kinase active site contacts that, when absent from chemically similar compounds, abrogates the inhibition: (a) a strong van der Waals contact with PERK residue Met7, (b) interactions with the N-terminal portion of the activation loop and (c) groups providing electrostatic complementarity to Asp144. Interestingly, the activation loop contact is required for PERK selectivity to emerge. Understanding these structure-activity relationships may accelerate rational PERK inhibitor design.
Exposure of cells to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress leads to activation of PKR-like ER kinase (PERK), eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2α (eIF2α) phosphorylation, repression of cyclin D1 translation, and subsequent cell cycle arrest in G1 phase. However, whether PERK is solely responsible for regulating cyclin D1 accumulation after unfolded protein response pathway (UPR) activation has not been assessed. Herein, we demonstrate that repression of cyclin D1 translation after UPR activation occurs independently of PERK, but it remains dependent on eIF2α phosphorylation. Although phosphorylation of eIF2α in PERK–/– fibroblasts is attenuated in comparison with wild-type fibroblasts, it is not eliminated. The residual eIF2α phosphorylation correlates with the kinetics of cyclin D1 loss, suggesting that another eIF2α kinase functions in the absence of PERK. In cells harboring targeted deletion of both PERK and GCN2, cyclin D1 loss is attenuated, suggesting GCN2 functions as the redundant kinase. Consistent with these results, cyclin D1 translation is also stabilized in cells expressing a nonphosphorylatable allele of eIF2α; in contrast, repression of global protein translation still occurs in these cells, highlighting a high degree of specificity in transcripts targeted for translation inhibition by phosphorylated eIF2α. Our results demonstrate that PERK and GCN2 function to cooperatively regulate eIF2α phosphorylation and cyclin D1 translation after UPR activation.
PERK eIF2α kinase is required for the proliferation of the insulin-secreting beta- cells as well as insulin synthesis and secretion. In addition, PERK signaling has been found to be an important factor in determining growth and angiogenesis of specific types of tumors, and was attributed to PERK-dependent regulation of the hypoxic stress response. In this report we examine the role of PERK in regulating proliferation and angiogenesis of transformed beta-cells in the development of insulinomas.
The SV40 Large T-antigen (Tag) was genetically introduced into the insulin secreting beta-cells of Perk KO mice under the control of an inducible promoter. Tumor growth and the related parameters of cell proliferation were measured. In late stage insulinomas the degree of vascularity was determined.
The formation and growth of insulinomas in Perk-deficient mice was dramatically ablated with much fewer tumors, which averaged 38-fold smaller than seen in wild-type control mice. Beta-cell proliferation was ablated in Perk-deficient mice associated with reduced tumor growth. In the small number of large encapsulated insulinomas that developed in Perk-deficient mice, we found a dramatic reduction in tumor vascularity compared to similar sized insulinomas in wild-type mice. Although insulinoma growth in Perk-deficient mice was largely impaired, beta-cell mass was increased sufficiently by T-antigen induction to rescue the hypoinsulinemia and diabetes in these mice.
We conclude that PERK has two roles in the development of beta-cell insulinomas, first to support rapid cell proliferation during the initial transition to islet hyperplasia and later to promote angiogenesis during the progression to late-stage encapsulated tumors.
Hypoxic stress results in a rapid and sustained inhibition of protein synthesis that is at least partially mediated by eukaryotic initiation factor 2α (eIF2α) phosphorylation by the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) kinase PERK. Here we show through microarray analysis of polysome-bound RNA in aerobic and hypoxic HeLa cells that a subset of transcripts are preferentially translated during hypoxia, including activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4), an important mediator of the unfolded protein response. Changes in mRNA translation during the unfolded protein response are mediated by PERK phosphorylation of the translation initiation factor eIF2α at Ser-51. Similarly, PERK is activated and is responsible for translational regulation under hypoxic conditions, while inducing the translation of ATF4. The overexpression of a C-terminal fragment of GADD34 that constitutively dephosphorylates eIF2α was able to attenuate the phosphorylation of eIF2α and severely inhibit the induction of ATF4 in response to hypoxic stress. These studies demonstrate the essential role of ATF4 in the response to hypoxic stress, define the pathway for its induction, and reveal that GADD34, a target of ATF4 activation, negatively regulates the eIF2α-mediated inhibition of translation. Taken with the concomitant induction of additional ER-resident proteins identified by our microarray analysis, this study suggests an important integrated response between ER signaling and the cellular adaptation to hypoxic stress.
The activity of PERK, an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) trans-membrane protein kinase, assists in an ER stress response designed to inhibit general protein synthesis while allowing up-regulated synthesis of selective proteins such as the ATF4 transcription factor. PERK null mice exhibit phenotypes that especially affect secretory cell types. Although embryonic fibroblasts from these mice are difficult to transfect with high efficiency, we have generated 293 cells stably expressing the PERK-K618A dominant negative mutant. 293/PERK-K618A cells, in response to ER stress: (a) do not properly inhibit general protein synthesis, (b) exhibit defective/delayed induction of ATF4 and BiP, and (c) exhibit exuberant splice activation of XBP1 and robust cleavage activation of ATF6, with abnormal regulation of calreticulin levels. The data suggest compensatory mechanisms allowing for cell survival in the absence of functional PERK. Interestingly, although induction of CHOP (a transcription factor implicated in apoptosis) is notably delayed after onset of ER stress, 293/PERK-K618A cells eventually produce CHOP at normal or even supranormal levels and exhibit increased apoptosis either in response to general ER stress or, more importantly, to specific misfolded secretory proteins.
In response to a variety of cell stresses, e.g. endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, expression of REDD1 (regulated in development and DNA damage responses) is transcriptionally upregulated. However, the mechanism through which ER stress acts to upregulate REDD1 expression is unknown. In the present study, REDD1 expression was found to be upregulated by ER stress in several cell lines. However, in MEF cells lacking the eIF2α kinase PERK, ER stress failed to upregulate REDD1 expression, demonstrating that phosphorylation of eIF2α was necessary for the effect. Moreover, ER stress led to upregulated expression of the transcription factor ATF4, but in MEF cells lacking ATF4, REDD1 mRNA expression was not increased by ER stress. In contrast, exogenous expression of ATF4 was sufficient to induce REDD1 expression. Overall, the results suggest that REDD1 expression is upregulated during ER stress through a mechanism involving activation of PERK, phosphorylation of eIF2α, and increased ATF4 expression.
REDD1; Rtp801; mTOR; ER stress; PERK; ATF4
In response to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, the signaling pathway termed unfolded protein response (UPR) is activated. To investigate the role of UPR in Litopenaeus vannamei immunity, the activating transcription factor 4 (designated as LvATF4) which belonged to a branch of the UPR, the [protein kinase RNA (PKR)-like ER kinase, (PERK)]-[eukaryotic initiation factor 2 subunit alpha (eIF2α)] pathway, was identified and characterized. The full-length cDNA of LvATF4 was 1972 bp long, with an open reading frame of 1299 bp long that encoded a 432 amino acid protein. LvATF4 was highly expressed in gills, intestines and stomach. For the white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) challenge, LvATF4 was upregulated in the gills after 3 hpi and increased by 1.9-fold (96 hpi) compared to the mock-treated group. The LvATF4 knock-down by RNA interference resulted in a lower cumulative mortality of L. vannamei under WSSV infection. Reporter gene assays show that LvATF4 could upregulate the expression of the WSSV gene wsv023 based on the activating transcription factor/cyclic adenosine 3′, 5′-monophosphate response element (ATF/CRE). Another transcription factor of L. vannamei, X box binding protein 1 (designated as LvXBP1), has a significant function in [inositol-requiring enzyme-1(IRE1) – (XBP1)] pathway. This transcription factor upregulated the expression of the WSSV gene wsv083 based on the UPR element (UPRE). These results suggest that in L. vannamei UPR signaling pathway transcription factors are important for WSSV and might facilitate WSSV infection.
The hepatitis C virus envelope protein, E2, is an endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-bound protein that contains a region of sequence homology with the double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase PKR and its substrate, the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 (eIF2). We previously reported that E2 modulates global translation through inhibition of the interferon-induced antiviral protein PKR through its PKR-eIF2α phosphorylation site homology domain (PePHD). Here we show that the PKR-like ER-resident kinase (PERK) binds to and is also inhibited by E2. At low expression levels, E2 induced ER stress, but at high expression levels, and in vitro, E2 inhibited PERK kinase activity. Mammalian cells that stably express E2 were refractory to the translation-inhibitory effects of ER stress inducers, and E2 relieved general translation inhibition induced by PERK. The PePHD of E2 was required for the rescue of translation that was inhibited by activated PERK, similar to our previous findings with PKR. Here we report the inhibition of a second eIF2α kinase by E2, and these results are consistent with a pseudosubstrate mechanism of inhibition of eIF2α kinases. These findings may also explain how the virus promotes persistent infection by overcoming the cellular ER stress response.
Eukaryotic cells express a family of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 alpha (eIF2α) kinases (eg, PKR, PERK-PEK, GCN2, HRI) that are individually activated in response to distinct types of environmental stress. Phosphorylation of eIF2α by one or more of these kinases reduces the concentration of eIF2–guanosine triphosphate (GTP)–transfer ribonucleic acid for methionine (tRNAMet), the ternary complex that loads tRNAMet onto the small ribosomal subunit to initiate protein translation. When ternary complex levels are reduced, the related RNA-binding proteins TIA-1 and TIAR promote the assembly of a noncanonical preinitiation complex that lacks eIF2-GTP-tRNAMet. The TIA proteins dynamically sort these translationally incompetent preinitiation complexes into discrete cytoplasmic domains known as stress granules (SGs). RNA-binding proteins that stabilize or destabilize messenger RNA (mRNA) are also recruited to SGs during stress. Thus, TIA-1 and TIAR act downstream of eIF2α phosphorylation to promote SG assembly and facilitate mRNA triage during stress. The role of the SG in the integration of translational efficiency, mRNA stability, and the stress response is discussed.
Insult to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) activates the Unfolded Protein Response (UPR), a set of signaling pathways that protect the cell from the potential damage caused by improperly folded proteins. Accumulation of misfolded proteins in the ER lumen initiates a series of signal transduction events via activation of three transmembrane ER proteins: Ire1, Atf6 and PERK. Activation of these proteins results in the transcriptional up-regulation of the components of the folding, trafficking and degradation machinery in the ER. PERK further reduces the load on the ER via the phosphorylation of eIF2α, attenuating general protein translation. It is believed that the UPR evolved as a transcriptional response that up-regulates protein folding machinery in the ER and later gained the ability to decrease ER load by attenuating general protein translation in metazoa. However, our in silico analyses of protozoan parasites revealed an absence of proteins involved in the transcriptionally mediated UPR and the presence of both PERK and its target eIF2α. Consistent with these observations, stimulation of the UPR in Leishmania donovani identified an absence of up-regulation of the ER chaperone BiP, the canonical ER chaperone modulated by the UPR in higher eukaryotes, while exhibiting increased phosphorylation of eIF2α which has been shown to attenuate protein translation. We further observed that L. donovani is more sensitive to UPR inducing agents than host macrophages, suggesting that the less evolved stress response could provide a new avenue for therapeutic treatment of parasitic infections.
The endoplasmic reticulum-localized transmembrane kinase PERK is one of three major ER stress transducers. The crystal structure of PERK’s kinase domain has been determined to 2.8 Å resolution.
The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) unfolded protein response (UPR) is comprised of several intracellular signaling pathways that alleviate ER stress. The ER-localized transmembrane kinase PERK is one of three major ER stress transducers. Oligomerization of PERK’s N-terminal ER luminal domain by ER stress promotes PERK trans-autophosphorylation of the C-terminal cytoplasmic kinase domain at multiple residues including Thr980 on the kinase activation loop. Activated PERK phosphorylates Ser51 of the α-subunit of translation initiation factor 2 (eIF2α), which inhibits initiation of protein synthesis and reduces the load of unfolded proteins entering the ER. The crystal structure of PERK’s kinase domain has been determined to 2.8 Å resolution. The structure resembles the back-to-back dimer observed in the related eIF2α kinase PKR. Phosphorylation of Thr980 stabilizes both the activation loop and helix αG in the C-terminal lobe, preparing the latter for eIF2α binding. The structure suggests conservation in the mode of activation of eIF2α kinases and is consistent with a ‘line-up’ model for PERK activation triggered by oligomerization of its luminal domain.
UPR; PERK; kinase domains; endoplasmic reticulum; eIF2α kinase; protein translation