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1.  Vaccine Activation of the Nutrient Sensor GCN2 in Dendritic Cells Enhances Antigen Presentation 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2013;343(6168):313-317.
The yellow fever vaccine YF-17D is one of the most successful vaccines ever developed in humans. Despite its efficacy and widespread use in more than 600 million people, the mechanisms by which it stimulates protective immunity remain poorly understood. Recent studies using systems biology approaches in humans have revealed that YF-17D–induced early expression of general control nonderepressible 2 kinase (GCN2) in the blood strongly correlates with the magnitude of the later CD8+ T cell response. We demonstrate a key role for virus-induced GCN2 activation in programming dendritic cells to initiate autophagy and enhanced antigen presentation to both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. These results reveal an unappreciated link between virus-induced integrated stress response in dendritic cells and the adaptive immune response.
PMCID: PMC4048998  PMID: 24310610
2.  Retarded PDI diffusion and a reductive shift in poise of the calcium depleted endoplasmic reticulum 
BMC Biology  2015;13:2.
Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) lumenal protein thiol redox balance resists dramatic variation in unfolded protein load imposed by diverse physiological challenges including compromise in the key upstream oxidases. Lumenal calcium depletion, incurred during normal cell signaling, stands out as a notable exception to this resilience, promoting a rapid and reversible shift towards a more reducing poise. Calcium depletion induced ER redox alterations are relevant to physiological conditions associated with calcium signaling, such as the response of pancreatic cells to secretagogues and neuronal activity. The core components of the ER redox machinery are well characterized; however, the molecular basis for the calcium-depletion induced shift in redox balance is presently obscure.
In vitro, the core machinery for generating disulfides, consisting of ERO1 and the oxidizing protein disulfide isomerase, PDI1A, was indifferent to variation in calcium concentration within the physiological range. However, ER calcium depletion in vivo led to a selective 2.5-fold decline in PDI1A mobility, whereas the mobility of the reducing PDI family member, ERdj5 was unaffected. In vivo, fluorescence resonance energy transfer measurements revealed that declining PDI1A mobility correlated with formation of a complex with the abundant ER chaperone calreticulin, whose mobility was also inhibited by calcium depletion and the calcium depletion-mediated reductive shift was attenuated in cells lacking calreticulin. Measurements with purified proteins confirmed that the PDI1A-calreticulin complex dissociated as Ca2+ concentrations approached those normally found in the ER lumen ([Ca2+]K0.5max = 190 μM).
Our findings suggest that selective sequestration of PDI1A in a calcium depletion-mediated complex with the abundant chaperone calreticulin attenuates the effective concentration of this major lumenal thiol oxidant, providing a plausible and simple mechanism for the observed shift in ER lumenal redox poise upon physiological calcium depletion.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12915-014-0112-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4316587  PMID: 25575667
Fluorescence lifetime imaging; Protein disulfide isomerase; Calreticulin; Endoplasmic reticulum; Redox; Calcium
3.  Protein-Folding Homeostasis in the Endoplasmic Reticulum and Nutritional Regulation 
The flux of newly synthesized proteins entering the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is under negative regulation by the ER-localized PKR-like ER kinase (PERK). PERK is activated by unfolded protein stress in the ER lumen and inhibits new protein synthesis by the phosphorylation of translation initiation factor eIF2α. This homeostatic mechanism, shared by all animal cells, has proven to be especially important to the well-being of professional secretory cells, notably the endocrine pancreas. PERK, its downstream effectors, and the allied branches of the unfolded protein response intersect broadly with signaling pathways that regulate nutrient assimilation, and ER stress and the response to it have been implicated in the development of the metabolic syndrome accompanying obesity in mammals. Here we review our current understanding of the cell biology underlying these relationships.
PERK, activated by unfolded protein stress in the ER, inhibits the synthesis of new proteins. This homeostatic mechanism is especially important in pancreatic β cells, which produce insulin.
PMCID: PMC3504434  PMID: 23209157
5.  GCN2-Dependent Metabolic Stress Is Essential for Endotoxemic Cytokine Induction and Pathology 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2014;34(3):428-438.
Activated inflammatory macrophages can express indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) and thus actively deplete their own tryptophan supply; however, it is not clear how amino acid depletion influences macrophage behavior in inflammatory environments. In this report, we demonstrate that the stress response kinase GCN2 promotes macrophage inflammation and mortality in a mouse model of septicemia. In vitro, enzymatic amino acid consumption enhanced sensitivity of macrophages to the Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) ligand lipopolysaccharide (LPS) with significantly increased interleukin 6 (IL-6) production. Tryptophan withdrawal induced the stress response proteins ATF4 and CHOP/GADD153; however, LPS stimulation rapidly enhanced expression of both proteins. Moreover, LPS-driven cytokine production under amino acid-deficient conditions was dependent on GCN2, as GCN2 knockout (GCN2KO) macrophages had a significant reduction of cytokine gene expression after LPS stimulation. To test the in vivo relevance of these findings, monocytic-lineage-specific GCN2KO mice were challenged with a lethal dose of LPS intraperitoneally (i.p.). The GCN2KO mice showed reduced inflammatory responses, with decreased IL-6 and IL-12 expression correlating with significant reduction in animal mortality. Thus, the data show that amino acid depletion stress signals (via GCN2) synergize with proinflammatory signals to potently increase innate immune responsiveness.
PMCID: PMC3911502  PMID: 24248597
6.  Intact protein folding in the glutathione-depleted endoplasmic reticulum implicates alternative protein thiol reductants 
eLife  2014;3:e03421.
Protein folding homeostasis in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) requires efficient protein thiol oxidation, but also relies on a parallel reductive process to edit disulfides during the maturation or degradation of secreted proteins. To critically examine the widely held assumption that reduced ER glutathione fuels disulfide reduction, we expressed a modified form of a cytosolic glutathione-degrading enzyme, ChaC1, in the ER lumen. ChaC1CtoS purged the ER of glutathione eliciting the expected kinetic defect in oxidation of an ER-localized glutathione-coupled Grx1-roGFP2 optical probe, but had no effect on the disulfide editing-dependent maturation of the LDL receptor or the reduction-dependent degradation of misfolded alpha-1 antitrypsin. Furthermore, glutathione depletion had no measurable effect on induction of the unfolded protein response (UPR); a sensitive measure of ER protein folding homeostasis. These findings challenge the importance of reduced ER glutathione and suggest the existence of alternative electron donor(s) that maintain the reductive capacity of the ER.
eLife digest
Proteins are basically strings of amino acids that have folded into a specific three-dimensional shape, and this shape is often important for the protein's function. Some proteins have bonds between pairs of cysteines—an amino acid that contains sulfur—in different parts of the protein to maintain its correct shape.
In eukaryotes, such as plants and animals, these so-called ‘disulfide bonds’ are formed inside a structure within each cell called the endoplasmic reticulum, which is where many proteins are folded. Occasionally, disulfide bonds form in the wrong place in a protein, so they need to be broken and re-positioned—a process sometimes called editing—for the protein to fold correctly. It was widely assumed that a chemical called ‘reduced glutathione’ fuels the breaking of disulfide bonds in the endoplasmic reticulum, but to date few researchers have tried to test this assumption.
Tsunoda et al. have now taken an enzyme that degrades glutathione elsewhere in the cell and modified it in a way that allows it to work inside the endoplasmic reticulum. When this modified enzyme was produced in human cells grown in the laboratory, it purged the endoplasmic reticulum of glutathione. However, the lack of glutathione had no effect on the folding of a large protein with 30 disulfide bonds, many of which need to be edited at one time or another for the protein to fold correctly. The destruction of a poorly folded protein, via a process that also needs this protein's disulfide bonds to be broken down, was also not affected by a lack of reduced glutathione in the endoplasmic reticulum.
Furthermore, decreasing these levels of glutathione did not affect the unfolded protein response: a stress response in cells that are experiencing a build-up of unfolded or poorly folded proteins within the endoplasmic reticulum.
As such, the findings of Tsunoda et al. challenge the importance of reduced glutathione in the endoplasmic reticulum and suggest that other chemical processes might be involved in editing disulfide bonds. Further work is now needed to investigate the other known processes that might complete this task instead to see which, if any, are involved.
PMCID: PMC4109312  PMID: 25073928
protein folding; UPR; redox; glutathione; human
7.  New Insights into Translational Regulation in the Endoplasmic Reticulum Unfolded Protein Response 
Homeostasis of the protein-folding environment in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is maintained by signal transduction pathways that collectively constitute an unfolded protein response (UPR). These affect bulk protein synthesis and thereby the levels of ER stress, but also culminate in regulated expression of specific mRNAs, such as that encoding the transcription factor ATF4. Mechanisms linking eukaryotic initiation factor 2 (eIF2) phosphorylation to control of unfolded protein load in the ER were elucidated more than 10 years ago, but recent work has highlighted the diversity of processes that impinge on eIF2 activity and revealed that there are multiple mechanisms by which changes in eIF2 activity can modulate the translation of individual mRNAs. In addition, the potential for affecting this step of translation initiation pharmacologically is becoming clearer. Furthermore, it is now clear that another strand of the UPR, controlled by the endoribonuclease inositol-requiring enzyme 1 (IRE1), also affects rates of protein synthesis in stressed cells and that its effector function, mediated by the transcription factor X-box-binding protein 1 (XBP1), is subject to important mRNA-specific translational regulation. These new insights into the convergence of translational control and the UPR will be reviewed here.
ER stress elicits two major responses: attenuation of protein synthesis (through PERK and eIF2α phosphorylation) and increased gene expression to promote protein-folding homeostasis (through the UPR).
PMCID: PMC3367556  PMID: 22535228
8.  The Unfolded Protein Response Element IRE1α Senses Bacterial Proteins Invading the ER to Activate RIG-I and Innate Immune Signaling 
Cell host & microbe  2013;13(5):558-569.
The plasma membrane and all membrane-bound organelles except for the Golgi and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) are equipped with pattern-recognition molecules to sense microbes or their products and induce innate immunity for host defense. Here, we report that inositol-requiring-1α (IRE1α), an ER protein that signals in the unfolded protein response (UPR), is activated to induce inflammation by binding a portion of cholera toxin as it co-opts the ER to cause disease. Other known UPR transducers, including the IRE1α-dependent transcription factor XBP1, are dispensable for this signaling. The inflammatory response depends instead on the RNase activity of IRE1α to degrade endogenous mRNA, a process termed regulated IRE1α-dependent decay (RIDD) of mRNA. The mRNA fragments produced engage retinoic-acid inducible gene 1 (RIG-I), a cyto-solic sensor of RNA viruses, to activate NF-κB and interferon pathways. We propose IRE1α provides for a generalized mechanism of innate immune surveillance originating within the ER lumen.
PMCID: PMC3766372  PMID: 23684307
9.  Ero1-α and PDIs constitute a hierarchical electron transfer network of endoplasmic reticulum oxidoreductases 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2013;202(6):861-874.
The interaction of Ero1-α and PDI facilitates the electron transfer function of Ero1-α, activating a hierarchical electron transfer network of endoplasmic reticulum oxidoreductases.
Ero1-α and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) oxidoreductases of the protein disulfide isomerase (PDI) family promote the efficient introduction of disulfide bonds into nascent polypeptides in the ER. However, the hierarchy of electron transfer among these oxidoreductases is poorly understood. In this paper, Ero1-α–associated oxidoreductases were identified by proteomic analysis and further confirmed by surface plasmon resonance. Ero1-α and PDI were found to constitute a regulatory hub, whereby PDI induced conformational flexibility in an Ero1-α shuttle cysteine (Cys99) facilitated intramolecular electron transfer to the active site. In isolation, Ero1-α also oxidized ERp46, ERp57, and P5; however, kinetic measurements and redox equilibrium analysis revealed that PDI preferentially oxidized other oxidoreductases. PDI accepted electrons from the other oxidoreductases via its a′ domain, bypassing the a domain, which serves as the electron acceptor from reduced glutathione. These observations provide an integrated picture of the hierarchy of cooperative redox interactions among ER oxidoreductases in mammalian cells.
PMCID: PMC3776355  PMID: 24043701
10.  Xbp1-independent Ire1 signaling is required for photoreceptor differentiation and rhabdomere morphogenesis in Drosophila 
Cell reports  2013;5(3):10.1016/j.celrep.2013.09.046.
The Unfolded Protein Response (UPR) is composed by homeostatic signaling pathways that are activated by excessive protein misfolding in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Ire1 signaling is an important mediator of the UPR, leading to the activation of the transcription factor Xbp1. Here, we show that Drosophila Ire1 mutant photoreceptors have defects in the delivery of Rhodopsin-1 to the rhabdomere and in the secretion of Spacemaker/Eyes shut into the inter-rhabdomeral space. However, these defects are not observed in Xbp1 mutant photoreceptors. Ire1 mutant retinas have higher mRNA levels for targets of regulated Ire1-dependent decay (RIDD), including for the fatty acid transport protein (fatp). Importantly, downregulation of fatp by RNA interference rescues the Rhodopsin-1 delivery defects observed in Ire1 mutant photoreceptors. Our results show that the role of Ire1 during photoreceptor differentiation is independent of Xbp1 function and demonstrate the physiological relevance of the RIDD mechanism in this specific paradigm.
PMCID: PMC3858604  PMID: 24183663
11.  Death Protein 5 and p53-Upregulated Modulator of Apoptosis Mediate the Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress–Mitochondrial Dialog Triggering Lipotoxic Rodent and Human β-Cell Apoptosis 
Diabetes  2012;61(11):2763-2775.
Environmental factors such as diets rich in saturated fats contribute to dysfunction and death of pancreatic β-cells in diabetes. Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress is elicited in β-cells by saturated fatty acids. Here we show that palmitate-induced β-cell apoptosis is mediated by the intrinsic mitochondrial pathway. By microarray analysis, we identified a palmitate-triggered ER stress gene expression signature and the induction of the BH3-only proteins death protein 5 (DP5) and p53-upregulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA). Knockdown of either protein reduced cytochrome c release, caspase-3 activation, and apoptosis in rat and human β-cells. DP5 induction depends on inositol-requiring enzyme 1 (IRE1)–dependent c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase and PKR–like ER kinase (PERK)–induced activating transcription factor (ATF3) binding to its promoter. PUMA expression is also PERK/ATF3-dependent, through tribbles 3 (TRB3)–regulated AKT inhibition and FoxO3a activation. DP5−/− mice are protected from high fat diet–induced loss of glucose tolerance and have twofold greater pancreatic β-cell mass. This study elucidates the crosstalk between lipotoxic ER stress and the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis that causes β-cell death in diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3478544  PMID: 22773666
12.  Lifetime imaging of a fluorescent protein sensor reveals surprising stability of ER thiol redox 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2013;201(2):337-349.
Fluorescent lifetime imaging of an ER-tuned redox-responsive probe revealed an unanticipated stability of ER thiol redox to fluctuations in unfolded protein load, in contrast with sensitivity to lumenal calcium.
Interfering with disulfide bond formation impedes protein folding and promotes endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. Due to limitations in measurement techniques, the relationships of altered thiol redox and ER stress have been difficult to assess. We report that fluorescent lifetime measurements circumvented the crippling dimness of an ER-tuned fluorescent redox-responsive probe (roGFPiE), faithfully tracking the activity of the major ER-localized protein disulfide isomerase, PDI. In vivo lifetime imaging by time-correlated single-photon counting (TCSPC) recorded subtle changes in ER redox poise induced by exposure of mammalian cells to a reducing environment but revealed an unanticipated stability of redox to fluctuations in unfolded protein load. By contrast, TCSPC of roGFPiE uncovered a hitherto unsuspected reductive shift in the mammalian ER upon loss of luminal calcium, whether induced by pharmacological inhibition of calcium reuptake into the ER or by physiological activation of release channels. These findings recommend fluorescent lifetime imaging as a sensitive method to track ER redox homeostasis in mammalian cells.
PMCID: PMC3628511  PMID: 23589496
13.  Resetting translational homeostasis restores myelination in Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1B mice 
Reduction of the CHOP target Gadd34 restores motor function in P0S63del mice with demyelinating neuropathy.
P0 glycoprotein is an abundant product of terminal differentiation in myelinating Schwann cells. The mutant P0S63del causes Charcot-Marie-Tooth 1B neuropathy in humans, and a very similar demyelinating neuropathy in transgenic mice. P0S63del is retained in the endoplasmic reticulum of Schwann cells, where it promotes unfolded protein stress and elicits an unfolded protein response (UPR) associated with translational attenuation. Ablation of Chop, a UPR mediator, from S63del mice completely rescues their motor deficit and reduces active demyelination by half. Here, we show that Gadd34 is a detrimental effector of CHOP that reactivates translation too aggressively in myelinating Schwann cells. Genetic or pharmacological limitation of Gadd34 function moderates translational reactivation, improves myelination in S63del nerves, and reduces accumulation of P0S63del in the ER. Resetting translational homeostasis may provide a therapeutic strategy in tissues impaired by misfolded proteins that are synthesized during terminal differentiation.
PMCID: PMC3620355  PMID: 23547100
14.  Oligodendrocyte-specific activation of PERK signaling protects mice against experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis 
There is compelling evidence that oligodendrocyte apoptosis, in response to CNS inflammation, contributes significantly to the development of the demyelinating disorder multiple sclerosis (MS) and its animal model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Therefore, approaches designed to protect oligodendrocytes would likely have therapeutic value. Activation of pancreatic endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) signaling in response to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress increases cell survival under various cytotoxic conditions. Moreover, there is evidence that PERK signaling is activated in oligodendrocytes within demyelinating lesions in MS and EAE. Our previous study demonstrated that CNS delivery of the inflammatory cytokine interferon-γ before EAE onset protected mice against EAE, and this protection was dependent on PERK signaling. In our current study, we sought to elucidate the role of PERK signaling in oligodendrocytes during EAE. We generated transgenic mice that allow for temporally-controlled activation of PERK signaling, in the absence of ER stress, specifically in oligodendrocytes. We demonstrated that persistent activation of PERK signaling was not deleterious to oligodendrocyte viability or the myelin of adult animals. Importantly, we found that enhanced activation of PERK signaling specifically in oligodendrocytes significantly attenuated EAE disease severity, which was associated with reduced oligodendrocyte apoptosis, demyelination, and axonal degeneration. This effect was not the result of an altered degree of the inflammatory response in EAE mice. Our results provide direct evidence that activation of PERK signaling in oligodendrocytes is cytoprotective, protecting mice against EAE.
PMCID: PMC3654380  PMID: 23554479
15.  Increased intestinal lipid absorption caused by Ire1β deficiency contributes to hyperlipidemia and atherosclerosis in apoE deficient mice 
Circulation Research  2012;110(12):1575-1584.
High fasting serum lipid levels are significant risk factors for atherosclerosis. However, the contributions of postprandial excursions in serum lipoproteins to atherogenesis are less well characterized.
This study aims to delineate whether changes in intestinal lipid absorption associated with loss of inositol requiring enzyme 1β (Ire1β) would affect the development of hyperlipidemia and atherosclerosis in Apoe−/− mice.
Methods and Results
We used Ire1β deficient mice to assess the contribution of intestinal lipid absorption to atherosclerosis. Here we show that Ire1b−/−/Apoe−/− mice contain higher levels of intestinal microsomal triglyceride transfer protein, absorb more lipids, develop hyperlipidemia, and have higher levels of atherosclerotic plaques compared to Apoe−/− mice when fed chow and western diets.
These studies indicate that Ire1β regulates intestinal lipid absorption and that increased intestinal lipoprotein production contributes to atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC3384494  PMID: 22556338
Lipid absorption; intestine; atherosclerosis; cholesterol; Ire1β; MTP; ApoB
16.  ADP ribosylation adapts an ER chaperone response to short-term fluctuations in unfolded protein load 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2012;198(3):371-385.
Inactivating ADP ribosylation of the ER chaperone BiP is a rapidly reversible mechanism for buffering acute changes in unfolded protein load.
Gene expression programs that regulate the abundance of the chaperone BiP adapt the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to unfolded protein load. However, such programs are slow compared with physiological fluctuations in secreted protein synthesis. While searching for mechanisms that fill this temporal gap in coping with ER stress, we found elevated levels of adenosine diphosphate (ADP)–ribosylated BiP in the inactive pancreas of fasted mice and a rapid decline in this modification in the active fed state. ADP ribosylation mapped to Arg470 and Arg492 in the substrate-binding domain of hamster BiP. Mutations that mimic the negative charge of ADP-ribose destabilized substrate binding and interfered with interdomain allosteric coupling, marking ADP ribosylation as a rapid posttranslational mechanism for reversible inactivation of BiP. A kinetic model showed that buffering fluctuations in unfolded protein load with a recruitable pool of inactive chaperone is an efficient strategy to minimize both aggregation and costly degradation of unfolded proteins.
PMCID: PMC3413365  PMID: 22869598
17.  Uncoupling Proteostasis and Development in Vitro with a Small Molecule Inhibitor of the Pancreatic Endoplasmic Reticulum Kinase, PERK* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2012;287(53):44338-44344.
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.
PMCID: PMC3531748  PMID: 23148209
Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress; Insulin Synthesis; Pancreatic Islets; Protein Misfolding; Protein Synthesis; Unfolded Protein Response; Insulin Metabolism; Translation Initiation
18.  New twists in the unfolded protein response 
eLife  2012;1:e00243.
The response of S. pombe, also known as fission yeast, to misfolded proteins involves mechanisms that have not been observed in other species.
PMCID: PMC3465570  PMID: 23066509
Unfolded Protein Response; Ire1; selective mRNA decay; Bip1 mRNA stabilization; ER homeostasis
19.  Endoplasmic Reticulum Thiol Oxidase Deficiency Leads to Ascorbic Acid Depletion and Noncanonical Scurvy in Mice 
Molecular Cell  2012;48(1):39-51.
Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) thiol oxidases initiate a disulfide relay to oxidatively fold secreted proteins. We found that combined loss-of-function mutations in genes encoding the ER thiol oxidases ERO1α, ERO1β, and PRDX4 compromised the extracellular matrix in mice and interfered with the intracellular maturation of procollagen. These severe abnormalities were associated with an unexpectedly modest delay in disulfide bond formation in secreted proteins but a profound, 5-fold lower procollagen 4-hydroxyproline content and enhanced cysteinyl sulfenic acid modification of ER proteins. Tissue ascorbic acid content was lower in mutant mice, and ascorbic acid supplementation improved procollagen maturation and lowered sulfenic acid content in vivo. In vitro, the presence of a sulfenic acid donor accelerated the oxidative inactivation of ascorbate by an H2O2-generating system. Compromised ER disulfide relay thus exposes protein thiols to competing oxidation to sulfenic acid, resulting in depletion of ascorbic acid, impaired procollagen proline 4-hydroxylation, and a noncanonical form of scurvy.
Graphical Abstract
► Abnormal extracellular matrix in mice compromised in their ER thiol oxidases ► Abnormal procollagen maturation responsive to ascorbate repletion ► Tissue ascorbate depletion and noncanonical scurvy in the mutant mice
PMCID: PMC3473360  PMID: 22981861
20.  Complementary Cell-Based High Throughput Screens Identify Novel Modulators of the Unfolded Protein Response 
Journal of Biomolecular Screening  2011;16(8):825-835.
Despite advances toward understanding the prevention and treatment of many cancers, patients who suffer from oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) confront a survival rate that has remained unimproved for more than two decades indicating our ability to treat them pharmacologically has reached a plateau. In an ongoing effort to improve the clinical outlook for this disease, we previously reported that an essential component of the mechanism by which the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib (PS-341, Velcade) induced apoptosis in OSCC required the activation of a terminal unfolded protein response (UPR). Predicated on these studies, we hypothesized that high throughput screening (HTS) of large diverse chemical libraries might identify more potent or selective small molecule activators of the apoptotic arm of the UPR to control or kill OSCC. We have developed complementary cell-based assays using stably transfected CHO-K1 cell lines that individually assess the PERK/eIF2α/CHOP (apoptotic) or the IRE1/XBP1 (adaptive) UPR sub-pathways. A ~66K compound collection was screened at the University of Michigan Center for Chemical Genomics that included a unique library of pre-fractionated natural product extracts. The mycotoxin methoxycitrinin was isolated from a natural extract and found to selectively activate the CHOP-luciferase reporter at 80μM. A series of citrinin derivatives were isolated from these extracts, including a unique congener that has not been previously described. In an effort to identify more potent compounds we examined the ability of citrinin and the structurally related mycotoxins ochratoxin A and patulin to activate the UPR. Strikingly, we found that patulin at 2.5 – 10μM induced a terminal UPR in a panel of OSCC cells that was characterized by an increase in CHOP, GADD34 and ATF3 gene expression and XBP1 splicing. A luminescent caspase assay and the induction of several BH3-only genes indicated that patulin could induce apoptosis in OSCC cells. These data support the use of this complementary HTS strategy to identify novel modulators of UPR signaling and tumor cell death.
PMCID: PMC3374590  PMID: 21844328
unfolded protein response; endoplasmic reticulum stress; cell-based assay; luciferase reporter; natural products
21.  The structure of the PERK kinase domain suggests the mechanism for its activation 
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.
PMCID: PMC3087621  PMID: 21543844
UPR; PERK; kinase domains; endoplasmic reticulum; eIF2α kinase; protein translation
22.  Inhibition of Nonsense-Mediated RNA Decay by the Tumor Microenvironment Promotes Tumorigenesis ▿ †  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2011;31(17):3670-3680.
While nonsense-mediated RNA decay (NMD) is an established mechanism to rapidly degrade select transcripts, the physiological regulation and biological significance of NMD are not well characterized. We previously demonstrated that NMD is inhibited in hypoxic cells. Here we show that the phosphorylation of the α subunit of eukaryotic initiation factor 2 (eIF2α) translation initiation factor by a variety of cellular stresses leads to the inhibition of NMD and that eIF2α phosphorylation and NMD inhibition occur in tumors. To explore the significance of this NMD regulation, we used an unbiased approach to identify approximately 750 NMD-targeted mRNAs and found that these mRNAs are overrepresented in stress response and tumor-promoting pathways. Consistent with these findings, the inhibition of NMD promotes cellular resistance to endoplasmic reticulum stress and encourages tumor formation. The transcriptional and translational regulations of gene expression by the microenvironment are established mechanisms by which tumor cells adapt to stress. These data indicate that NMD inhibition by the tumor microenvironment is also an important mechanism to dynamically regulate genes critical for the response to cellular stress and tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC3165546  PMID: 21730287
23.  Integrating the mechanisms of apoptosis induced by endoplasmic reticulum stress 
Nature cell biology  2011;13(3):184-190.
The ability to respond to perturbations in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) function is a fundamentally important property of all cells, but ER stress can also lead to apoptosis. In settings of chronic ER stress, the associated apoptosis may contribute to pathophysiological processes involved in a number of prevalent diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, atherosclerosis and renal disease. The molecular mechanisms linking ER stress to apoptosis are the topic of this review, with emphases on relevance to pathophysiology and integration and complementation among the various apoptotic pathways induced by ER stress.
PMCID: PMC3107571  PMID: 21364565
24.  Oxidative protein folding by an endoplasmic reticulum localized peroxiredoxin 
Molecular cell  2010;40(5):787-797.
Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) oxidation 1 (ERO1) transfers disulfides to protein disulfide isomerase (PDI) and is essential for oxidative protein folding in simple eukaryotes such as yeast and worms. Surprisingly, ERO1-deficient mammalian cells exhibit only a modest delay in disulfide bond formation. To identify ERO1-independent pathways to disulfide bond formation, we purified PDI oxidants with a trapping mutant of PDI. PRDX4 stood out in this list, as the related cytosolic peroxiredoxins are known to form disulfides in the presence of hydroperoxides. Mouse embryo fibroblasts lacking ERO1 were intolerant of PRDX4 knockdown. Introduction of wildtype mammalian PRDX4 into the ER rescued the temperature-sensitive phenotype of an ero1 yeast mutation. In the presence of an H2O2 generating system, purified PRDX4 oxidized PDI and reconstituted oxidative folding of RNase A. These observations implicate ER localized PRDX4 in a previously unanticipated, parallel, ERO1-independent pathway that couples hydroperoxide production to oxidative protein folding in mammalian cells.
PMCID: PMC3026605  PMID: 21145486
protein folding; endoplasmic reticulum; hydrogen peroxide; enzyme analysis – in vitro
25.  Mannose-6-phosphate regulates destruction of lipid-linked oligosaccharides 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2011;22(17):2994-3009.
Mannose-6-phosphate is a common metabolite in glycoconjugate synthesis. In this study, it is revealed to do double duty as a second messenger-like signaling molecule, in a novel pathway that responds to HSV-1 stress to destroy host lipid–linked oligosaccharides otherwise used by the virus to generate glycoprotein components of its envelope.
Mannose-6-phosphate (M6P) is an essential precursor for mannosyl glycoconjugates, including lipid-linked oligosaccharides (LLO; glucose3mannose9GlcNAc2-P-P-dolichol) used for protein N-glycosylation. In permeabilized mammalian cells, M6P also causes specific LLO cleavage. However, the context and purpose of this paradoxical reaction are unknown. In this study, we used intact mouse embryonic fibroblasts to show that endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress elevates M6P concentrations, leading to cleavage of the LLO pyrophosphate linkage with recovery of its lipid and lumenal glycan components. We demonstrate that this M6P originates from glycogen, with glycogenolysis activated by the kinase domain of the stress sensor IRE1-α. The apparent futility of M6P causing destruction of its LLO product was resolved by experiments with another stress sensor, PKR-like ER kinase (PERK), which attenuates translation. PERK's reduction of N-glycoprotein synthesis (which consumes LLOs) stabilized steady-state LLO levels despite continuous LLO destruction. However, infection with herpes simplex virus 1, an N-glycoprotein-bearing pathogen that impairs PERK signaling, not only caused LLO destruction but depleted LLO levels as well. In conclusion, the common metabolite M6P is also part of a novel mammalian stress-signaling pathway, responding to viral stress by depleting host LLOs required for N-glycosylation of virus-associated polypeptides. Apparently conserved throughout evolution, LLO destruction may be a response to a variety of environmental stresses.
PMCID: PMC3164449  PMID: 21737679

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