Gene Summary

Gene:ATF6; activating transcription factor 6
Aliases: ACHM7, ATF6A
Summary:This gene encodes a transcription factor that activates target genes for the unfolded protein response (UPR) during endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. Although it is a transcription factor, this protein is unusual in that it is synthesized as a transmembrane protein that is embedded in the ER. It functions as an ER stress sensor/transducer, and following ER stress-induced proteolysis, it functions as a nuclear transcription factor via a cis-acting ER stress response element (ERSE) that is present in the promoters of genes encoding ER chaperones. This protein has been identified as a survival factor for quiescent but not proliferative squamous carcinoma cells. There have been conflicting reports about the association of polymorphisms in this gene with diabetes in different populations, but another polymorphism has been associated with increased plasma cholesterol levels. This gene is also thought to be a potential therapeutic target for cystic fibrosis. [provided by RefSeq, Aug 2011]
Databases:OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:cyclic AMP-dependent transcription factor ATF-6 alpha
Source:NCBIAccessed: 01 September, 2019


What does this gene/protein do?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1994-2019)
Graph generated 01 September 2019 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

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Tag cloud generated 01 September, 2019 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (5)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: ATF6 (cancer-related)

Choi YM, Lee SY, Kim BJ
Naturally Occurring Hepatitis B Virus Mutations Leading to Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress and Their Contribution to the Progression of Hepatocellular Carcinoma.
Int J Mol Sci. 2019; 20(3) [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a global health problem that causes a wide range of pathological outcomes, including cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress induction by HBV infection has been implicated in liver carcinogenesis and disease progression with chronic inflammation via enhanced inflammation, oxidative stress-mediated DNA damage, and hepatocyte proliferation. In the natural course of HBV infection, the accumulation of naturally occurring mutations in the HBV genome can generate several mutant types of HBV-encoded proteins, including three different proteins in the S ORF (SHBs, MHBs, and LHBs) and HBcAg in the C ORF, which could contribute to enhanced ER stress in infected hepatocytes mainly via increased ER accumulation of mutant proteins. However, it seems that there may be distinct capacity and pathway in ER stress-induction and distinct resulting clinical outcomes between HBV variants. In addition, the role of HBxAg mutations in ER stress remains unknown. However, it has been reported that HBxAg itself could exert ER stress in infected cells, resulting in HCC generation in chronic HBV patients. To date, review papers regarding ER stress-mediated HBV mutation have been limited into a specific mutation type: preS2 deletion. So, in this review, we will discuss details about various mutation types in all four regions of the HBV genome (preS1, preS2, S, and C) related to ER stress and their distinct ER stress mechanisms and clinical outcomes in terms of mutation types.

Gundamaraju R, Vemuri R, Chong WC, et al.
Bilirubin Attenuates ER Stress-Mediated Inflammation, Escalates Apoptosis and Reduces Proliferation in the LS174T Colonic Epithelial Cell Line.
Int J Med Sci. 2019; 16(1):135-144 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Mildly elevated serum unconjugated bilirubin (UCB) concentrations are associated with protection against disease conditions underpinned by cellular and metabolic stress. To determine the potential therapeutic efficacy of UCB we tested it in an

Papaioannou A, Higa A, Jégou G, et al.
Alterations of EDEM1 functions enhance ATF6 pro-survival signaling.
FEBS J. 2018; 285(22):4146-4164 [PubMed] Related Publications
Activating transcription factor 6 alpha (referred to as ATF6 hereafter) is an endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-resident glycoprotein and one of the three sensors of the unfolded protein response (UPR). Upon ER stress, ATF6 is exported to the Golgi complex where it is cleaved by the S1P and S2P proteases thus releasing ATF6 cytosolic fragment and leading to the transcription of ATF6 target genes. In this study, we performed a phenotypic small-interfering RNA (siRNA) screening to better characterize the ER mechanisms involved in ATF6 activation upon ER stress. This revealed that silencing of ER-degradation-enhancing alpha-mannosidase-like protein-1 (EDEM1) increased the bioavailability of ER stress-induced ATF6 export to the Golgi complex through the stabilization of the natively unstable ATF6 protein. Moreover, we characterized a somatic variant of EDEM1 (N198I) found in hepatocellular carcinoma that alters ATF6 signaling and might provide a selective advantage to the transforming cells. Hence, our work confirms the natively unstable nature of ATF6 and links this property to potentially associated pro-oncogenic functions.

Jeannot E, Harlé A, Holmes A, Sastre-Garau X
Nuclear factor I X is a recurrent target for HPV16 insertions in anal carcinomas.
Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2018; 57(12):638-644 [PubMed] Related Publications
Anal carcinomas (AC) are associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA sequences, but little is known about the physical state of the viral genome in carcinoma cells. To define the integration status and gene(s) targeted by viral insertions in AC, tumor DNAs extracted from 35 tumor specimen samples in patients with HPV16-associated invasive carcinoma were analyzed using the detection of integrated papillomavirus sequences-PCR approach. The genomic status at integration sites was assessed using comparative genomic hybridization-array assay and gene expression using reverse transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR). HPV16 DNA was found integrated in 25/35 (71%) cases and the integration locus could be determined at the molecular level in 19 cases (29 total integration loci). HPV DNA was inserted on different chromosomes, but 5 cases harbored viral sequences at 19p13.2, within the nuclear factor I X (NFIX) locus. Viral DNA mapped between the most distal and the two proximal alternatively expressed exons of this gene in three cases (CA21, CA04, and CA35) and upstream of this gene (663 kb and 2.3 Mb) in the others. CGH arrays showed genomic gains/amplifications at the NFIX region, associated with HPV within the gene and RT-qPCR, revealed NFIX mRNA overexpression. Other genes targeted by integration were IL20RB, RPS6KA2, MSRA1, PIP5K1B, SLX4IP, CECR1, BCAR3, ATF6, CSNK1G1, APBA2, AGK, ILF3, PVT1, TRMT1, RAD51B, FASN, CCDC57, DSG3, and ZNF563. We identified recurrent targeting of NFIX by HPV16 insertion in anal carcinomas, supporting a role for this gene in oncogenesis, as reported for non-HPV tumors.

Garcia-Carbonero N, Li W, Cabeza-Morales M, et al.
New Hope for Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma Treatment Targeting Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress Response: A Systematic Review.
Int J Mol Sci. 2018; 19(9) [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the most lethal types of tumours, and its incidence is rising worldwide. Although survival can be improved by surgical resection when these tumours are detected at an early stage, this cancer is usually asymptomatic, and disease only becomes apparent after metastasis. Several risk factors are associated with this disease, the most relevant being chronic pancreatitis, diabetes, tobacco and alcohol intake, cadmium, arsenic and lead exposure, certain infectious diseases, and the mutational status of some genes associated to a familial component. PDAC incidence has increased in recent decades, and there are few alternatives for chemotherapeutic treatment. Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress factors such as GRP78/BiP (78 kDa glucose-regulated protein), ATF6α (activating transcription factor 6 isoform α), IRE1α (inositol-requiring enzyme 1 isoform α), and PERK (protein kinase RNA-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase) activate the transcription of several genes involved in both survival and apoptosis. Some of these factors aid in inducing a non-proliferative state in cancer called dormancy. Modulation of endoplasmic reticulum stress could induce dormancy of tumour cells, thus prolonging patient survival. In this systematic review, we have compiled relevant results concerning those endoplasmic reticulum stress factors involved in PDAC, and we have analysed the mechanism of dormancy associated to endoplasmic reticulum stress and its potential use as a chemotherapeutic target against PDAC.

Coleman OI, Lobner EM, Bierwirth S, et al.
Activated ATF6 Induces Intestinal Dysbiosis and Innate Immune Response to Promote Colorectal Tumorigenesis.
Gastroenterology. 2018; 155(5):1539-1552.e12 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND & AIMS: Activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6) regulates endoplasmic reticulum stress. We studied whether ATF6 contributes to the development of colorectal cancer (CRC) using tissue from patients and transgenic mice.
METHODS: We analyzed data from 541 patients with CRC in The Cancer Genome Atlas database for genetic variants and aberrant expression levels of unfolded protein response genes. Findings were validated in a cohort of 83 patients with CRC in Germany. We generated mice with intestinal epithelial cell-specific expression of the active form of Atf6 (nATF6IEC) from 2 alleles (homozygous), mice with expression of nATF6IEC from 1 allele (heterozygous), and nATF6IECfl/fl mice (controls). All nATF6IEC mice were housed under either specific-pathogen-free or germ-free conditions. Cecal microbiota from homozygous nATF6IEC mice or control mice was transferred into homozygous nATF6IEC mice or control mice. nATF6IEC mice were crossed with mice with disruptions in the myeloid differentiation primary response gene 88 and toll-like receptor adaptor molecule 1 gene (Myd88/Trif-knockout mice). Intestinal tissues were collected from mice and analyzed by histology, immunohistochemistry, immunoblots, gene expression profiling of unfolded protein response and inflammatory genes, array-based comparative genome hybridization, and 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing.
RESULTS: Increased expression of ATF6 was associated with reduced disease-free survival times of patients with CRC. Homozygous nATF6IEC mice developed spontaneous colon adenomas at 12 weeks of age. Compared with controls, homozygous nATF6IEC mice had changes in the profile of their cecal microbiota, increased proliferation of intestinal epithelial cells, and loss of the mucus barrier-all preceding tumor formation. These mice had increased penetration of bacteria into the inner mucus layer and activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3, yet inflammation was not observed at the pretumor or tumor stages. Administration of antibiotics to homozygous nATF6IEC mice greatly reduced tumor incidence, and germ-free housing completely prevented tumorigenesis. Analysis of nATF6IEC MyD88/TRIF-knockout mice showed that tumor initiation and growth required MyD88/TRIF-dependent activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3. Transplantation of cecal microbiota from nATF6IEC mice and control mice, collected before tumor formation, caused tumor formation in ex-germ-free nATF6IEC mice.
CONCLUSIONS: In patients with CRC, ATF6 was associated with reduced time of disease-free survival. In studies of nATF6IEC mice, we found sustained intestinal activation of ATF6 in the colon to promote dysbiosis and microbiota-dependent tumorigenesis.

Liu CY, Hsu CC, Huang TT, et al.
ER stress-related ATF6 upregulates CIP2A and contributes to poor prognosis of colon cancer.
Mol Oncol. 2018; 12(10):1706-1717 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress is an adaptive response to various stress conditions and plays emerging roles in cancer. Activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6), one of the three major ER stress transducers, has been shown to contribute to chemoresistance by altering cancer cell survival. Cancerous inhibitor of protein phosphatase 2A (CIP2A) is an oncogene, and its expression has been correlated with the prognosis of patients with cancer. In this study, we aimed to explore the relationship between ER stress-related ATF signaling and CIP2A. We found that CIP2A expression was positively correlated with ATF6 expression by analyzing publicly available RNA sequence data of patients with colorectal cancer (The Cancer Genome Atlas, TCGA). In addition, we demonstrated that tunicamycin-induced ER stress in vitro upregulated ATF6 and CIP2A. Mechanistically, we found that ATF6 directly bound to the CIP2A promoter and induced CIP2A gene expression, which contributed to colon cancer cell survival. Furthermore, knockdown of CIP2A reduced the viability of cells under ER stress. Most importantly, immunohistochemical analysis of a tissue microarray from a colon cancer patient cohort showed that higher expression levels of ATF6 and CIP2A were associated with a trend toward poor prognosis. Taken together, our results show that ER stress-related ATF6 upregulates CIP2A and contributes to the prognosis of colon cancer. Targeting CIP2A may disrupt ER stress-mediated colon cancer cell survival and thus improve the prognosis of patients with colon cancer.

Gkouveris I, Nikitakis NG, Aseervatham J, Ogbureke KUE
The tumorigenic role of DSPP and its potential regulation of the unfolded protein response and ER stress in oral cancer cells.
Int J Oncol. 2018; 53(4):1743-1751 [PubMed] Related Publications
Dentin sialophosphoprotein (DSPP) is upregulated in various human cancers, including head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Cancer cells are commonly found under constant endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and exhibit increased levels of misfolded proteins, due to gene mutations and a stressful microenvironment. The present study examined the effects of DSPP silencing on the regulation of ER stress and the unfolded protein response (UPR) in oral cancer cells. A recently established stable DSPP short hairpin (sh)RNA-silenced OSC2 oral cancer cell line was used. The mRNA expression levels of ER stress-associated proteins, including 78 kDa glucose-regulated protein (GRP78), sarcoplasmic/endoplasmic reticulum calcium ATPase 2b (SERCA2b), inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor (IP3r), protein kinase R-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK), serine/threonine-protein kinase/endoribonuclease IRE1 (IRE1), activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6) and matrix metalloproteinase 20 (MMP20), were assessed by reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction. The expression levels of apoptosis-related [B‑cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl2), Bcl2-associated X protein (Bax) and cytochrome c] and cell proliferation-related [proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA)] proteins were analyzed by western blotting. Cell viability, apoptosis and migration were monitored by MTT assay, Annexin V-fluorescein isothiocyanate flow cytometry and wound-healing assay, respectively. In transiently transfected puromycin‑free OSC2 cells, DSPP silencing markedly downregulated the mRNA expression levels of major ER stress regulators, including GRP78, SERCA2b, PERK, IRE1 and ATF6, as well as MMP20. DSPP silencing also resulted in decreased cell viability and migration, and enhanced apoptosis. Furthermore, PCNA and Bcl2 levels were decreased, whereas Bax and cytochrome c protein levels were increased in DSPP-silenced OSC2 cells. Sustained puromycin treatment partially counteracted the effects of DSPP silencing on the mRNA expression levels of ER stress-related proteins and MMP20, and on the migratory capacity of OSC2 cells. However, following puromycin treatment of DSPP-silenced cells, cell viability was further reduced and apoptosis was enhanced. In conclusion, these data provide evidence to suggest that DSPP may be involved in ER stress mechanisms in oral squamous cell carcinoma, since its downregulation in OSC2 cells led to significant alterations in the levels of major ER stress-associated proteins, and subsequent collapse of the UPR system.

Garrido-Armas M, Corona JC, Escobar ML, et al.
Paraptosis in human glioblastoma cell line induced by curcumin.
Toxicol In Vitro. 2018; 51:63-73 [PubMed] Related Publications
Curcumin is a polyphenol compound extracted from Curcuma longa plant, is a molecule with pleiotropic effects that suppresses transformation, proliferation and metastasis of malignant tumors. Curcumin can cause different kinds of cell death depending of its concentration on the exposed cell type. Here we show that exposure of the glioblastoma cell line A172 to curcumin at 50 μM, the IC50, causes morphological change characteristic of paraptosis cell-death. Vesicles derived from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and low membrane potential of the mitochondria were constantly found in the exposed cells. Furthermore, changes in expression of the ER Stress Response (ERSR) genes IRE1 and ATF6, and the microRNAs (miRNAs) miR-27a, miR-222, miR-449 was observed after exposure to curcumin. AKT-Insulin and p53-BCL2 networks were predicted being modulated by the affected miRNAs. Furthermore, AKT protein levels reduction was confirmed. Our data, strongly suggest that curcumin exerts its cell-death properties by affecting the integrity of the reticulum, leading to paraptosis in the glioblastoma cells. These data unveils the versatility of curcumin to control cancer progression.

Afrin S, Giampieri F, Gasparrini M, et al.
The inhibitory effect of Manuka honey on human colon cancer HCT-116 and LoVo cell growth. Part 1: the suppression of cell proliferation, promotion of apoptosis and arrest of the cell cycle.
Food Funct. 2018; 9(4):2145-2157 [PubMed] Related Publications
Numerous investigations have been made on plant phenolic compounds and cancer prevention in recent decades. Manuka honey (MH) represents a good source of phenolic compounds such as luteolin, kaempferol, quercetin, gallic acid and syringic acid. The aim of this work was to evaluate the chemopreventive effects of MH on human colon cancer HCT-116 and LoVo cells. Both cells were exposed to different concentrations of MH (0-20 mg mL-1 for HCT-116 cells and 0-50 mg mL-1 for LoVo cells) for 48 h to measure apoptosis and cell cycle arrest as well as apoptosis and cell cycle regulatory gene and protein expression. MH exhibited profound inhibitory effects on cellular growth by reducing the proliferation ability, inducing apoptosis and arresting the cell cycle in a dose-dependent manner. Interestingly, MH treatment in non-malignant cells did not exert any significant toxicity at similar concentrations. The apoptosis event was associated with the increasing expression of p53, cleaved-PARP and caspase-3 and with the activation of both intrinsic (caspase-9) and extrinsic (caspase-8) apoptotic pathways. MH induced cell cycle arrest in the S phase in HCT-116 cells, and simultaneously, in LoVo cells, it occurred in the G2/M phase through the modulation of cell cycle regulator genes (cyclin D1, cyclin E, CDK2, CDK4, p21, p27 and Rb). The expression of p-Akt was suppressed while the expression of p-p38MAPK, p-Erk1/2 and endoplasmic stress markers (ATF6 and XBP1) was increased for apoptosis induction. Overall, these findings indicate that MH could be a promising preventive or curative food therapy for colon cancer.

Li XM, Liu J, Pan FF, et al.
Quercetin and aconitine synergistically induces the human cervical carcinoma HeLa cell apoptosis via endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress pathway.
PLoS One. 2018; 13(1):e0191062 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Up till now, studies have not been conducted on how the combination of Quercetin (Q), Aconitine (A) and apoptosis induction affects human cervical carcinoma HeLa cells. The result of our findings shows that the combination of Q and A (QA) is capable of synergistically inhibiting the proliferation of HeLa cells in a number of concentrations. QA synergistically inhibits the proliferation of MDR1 gene in the HeLa cells. It is concluded based on our result that QA induces apoptosis and ER stress just as QA-induced ER stress pathway may mediate apoptosis by upregulating mRNA expression levels of eIF2α, ATF4, IRE1, XBP1, ATF6, PERK and CHOP in the HeLa cells. The up-regulating of mRNA expression level of GRP78 and activation of UPR are a molecular basis of QA-induced ER stress.

Eigner K, Filik Y, Mark F, et al.
The unfolded protein response impacts melanoma progression by enhancing FGF expression and can be antagonized by a chemical chaperone.
Sci Rep. 2017; 7(1):17498 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The mechanisms hallmarking melanoma progression are insufficiently understood. Here we studied the impact of the unfolded protein response (UPR) - a signalling cascade playing ambiguous roles in carcinogenesis - in melanoma malignancy. We identified isogenic patient-derived melanoma cell lines harboring BRAF

Liang G, Fang X, Yang Y, Song Y
Knockdown of CEMIP suppresses proliferation and induces apoptosis in colorectal cancer cells: downregulation of GRP78 and attenuation of unfolded protein response.
Biochem Cell Biol. 2018; 96(3):332-341 [PubMed] Related Publications
It has been suggested that cell migration inducing hyaluronan binding protein (CEMIP) contributes to the carcinogenesis of colorectal cancer (CRC). Cancer cells can adapt to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress by initiating an unfolded protein response (UPR). This study aimed to investigate whether CEMIP affects the UPR of CRC cells, with a focus on 78 kDa glucose-regulated protein (GRP78, a major ER chaperone). We found that knockdown of CEMIP inhibited cell proliferation and induced a G1 arrest in SW480 CRC cells. The levels of cyclin D1 and cyclin E1 and phospho-retinoblastoma, which are known to promote the cell cycle progression from G0 or G1 into S phase, were decreased in CEMIP-silenced cells. CEMIP shRNA induced apoptosis and inhibited GRP78 expression in SW480 and Colo205 cells. The basal UPR of cancer cells was attenuated by CEMIP shRNA, as evidenced by the decreased expression of UPR sensors, protein kinase R-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK), inositol requiring enzyme 1 (IRE1), and activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6). Furthermore, CEMIP silencing sensitized CRC cells to thapsigargin-induced apoptosis. Our study demonstrates that the in-vitro anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects in CRC cells that were induced by silencing CEMIP may be associated with GRP78 repression and UPR attenuation.

Hanaoka M, Ishikawa T, Ishiguro M, et al.
Expression of ATF6 as a marker of pre-cancerous atypical change in ulcerative colitis-associated colorectal cancer: a potential role in the management of dysplasia.
J Gastroenterol. 2018; 53(5):631-641 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Diagnosis of low-grade dysplasia (LGD) is important in the management of ulcerative colitis (UC), but it is often difficult to distinguish LGD from inflammatory regenerative epithelium. The unfolded protein response (UPR) is activated in inflammatory bowel disease and malignancies. We aimed to identify a UPR-related gene that is involved in the development of non-UC and UC-associated colorectal cancer (CRC), and to investigate whether the target gene is useful for the diagnosis of LGD.
METHODS: Using our microarray gene expression database of 152 CRCs, we identified activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6) as a target gene. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) of ATF6 were analyzed in 137 surgically resected CRCs, 95 endoscopically resected adenomas and pTis cancers, and 136 samples from 51 UC patients (93 colitis without neoplasia, 31 dysplasia, and 12 UC-associated CRC). The diagnostic accuracy of ATF6 and p53 as markers of LGD was assessed.
RESULTS: ATF6 expression was detectable in all CRCs but not in normal colonic mucosa, was elevated with increase in cellular atypia (adenoma with moderate atypia < severe atypia < pTis CRC, p < 0.001), and higher in dysplasia and CRC than in non-neoplastic colitis (p < 0.001). Notably, the difference between colitis and LGD was significant. Compared to p53-IHC, ATF6-IHC had better diagnostic accuracy for distinguishing LGD from background inflammatory mucosa (sensitivity 70.8 vs. 16.7%, specificity 78.5 vs.71.0%, respectively).
CONCLUSIONS: ATF6 was expressed in lesions undergoing pre-cancerous atypical change in both non-UC and UC-associated CRC and may be used to distinguish LGD from inflammatory regenerative epithelium in UC patients.

Li W, Dong C
Polymorphism in asparagine synthetase is associated with overall survival of hepatocellular carcinoma patients.
BMC Gastroenterol. 2017; 17(1):79 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Recently, it is reported that asparagine synthetase (ASNS) is an independent predictor of surgical survival in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients. It is also reported that activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6) expression is decreased in HCC patients. So in the present study, we explored the relationship between ASNS and ATF6, and whether ASNS expression was associated with HCC.
METHODS: ATF6 was over expressed in 3 HCC cell lines (HepG2, HepG2.2.15 and SMMC-7721). We then examined the mRNA levels of ASNS and ATF6 in 90 HCC patients, 77 chronic hepatitis B patients and 70 controls. We also genotyped 2 functional polymorphisms in ASNS in a case-control study.
RESULTS: The expression of ASNS was significantly elevated when ATF6 was over expressed. The expressions of these 2 genes were both decreased in HCC patients, and it was more significantly with ASNS. The mRNA levels of ASNS and ATF6 were positively correlated with each other. rs34050735 was associated with HCC in the case-control study (P = 0.003) and also an independent predictor of overall survival of HCC patients (P = 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Taken together, these findings indicated that rs34050735 in ASNS may associate with HCC and may be a promising biomarker of HCC.

Li XH, He XR, Zhou YY, et al.
Taraxacum mongolicum extract induced endoplasmic reticulum stress associated-apoptosis in triple-negative breast cancer cells.
J Ethnopharmacol. 2017; 206:55-64 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive and deadly breast cancer subtype with limited treatment options. It is necessary to seek complementary strategies for TNBC management. Taraxacum mongolicum, commonly named as dandelion, is a herb medicine with anti-cancer activity and has been utilized to treat mammary abscess, hyperplasia of mammary glands from ancient time in China, but the scientific evidence and action mechanisms still need to be studied.
AIM OF THE STUDY: This study was intended to investigate the therapeutic effect and molecular mechanisms of dandelion extract in TNBC cell line.
METHODOLOGY: Dandelion extract was prepared and purified, and then its chemical composition was determined. Cell viability was evaluated by MTT assay. Analysis of cell apoptosis and cell cycle was assessed by flow cytometry. The expression levels of mRNA and proteins were determined by real-time PCR and Western blotting, respectively. Caspase inhibitor Z-VAD-FMK and CHOP siRNA were used to confirm the cell apoptosis induced by dandelion extract.
RESULTS: Dandelion extract significantly decreased MDA-MB-231cell viability, triggered G2/M phase arrest and cell apoptosis. Concurrently, it caused a markedly increase of cleaved caspase-3 and PARP proteins. Caspase inhibitor Z-VAD-FMK abolished the apoptosis triggered by dandelion extract. The three ER stress-related signals were strongly induced after dandelion treatment, including increased mRNA expressions of ATF4, ATF6, XBP1s, GRP78 and CHOP genes, elevated protein levels of phosphorylated PERK, eIF-2α, IRE1, as well as the downstream molecules of CHOP and GRP78. MDA-MB-231 cells transfected with CHOP siRNA significantly reduced apoptosis induced by dandelion extract. The underlying mechanisms at least partially ascribe to the strong activation of PERK/p-eIF2α/ATF4/CHOP axis.
CONCLUSION: ER stress related cell apoptosis accounted for the anti-cancer effect of dandelion extract, and these findings support dandelion extract might be a potential therapeutic approach to treat TNBC.

Huang ZL, Chen RP, Zhou XT, et al.
Long non-coding RNA MEG3 induces cell apoptosis in esophageal cancer through endoplasmic reticulum stress.
Oncol Rep. 2017; 37(5):3093-3099 [PubMed] Related Publications
Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) play important roles in diverse biological processes, such as cell growth, apoptosis and migration. Although downregulation of lncRNA MEG3 has been identified in several cancers, little is known about its role in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). The aim of the present study was to detect MEG3 expression in clinical ESCC tissues, investigate its biological functions and the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-relative mechanism. MEG3 expression levels were detected by qRT-PCR in both tumor tissues and adjacent non-tumor tissues from 28 ESCC patients. PcDNA3.1-MEG3 recombinant plasmids were constructed and transfected to EC109 cells. Cell growth was analyzed by CCK-8 assay. Cell apoptosis was analyzed by fluorescence microscope and Annexin V/PI assay. The protein expression was determined by western blot analysis. The results showed that MEG3 decreased significantly in ESCC tissues relative to adjacent normal tissues. PcDNA3.1-MEG3 plasmids were successfully constructed and the expression level of MEG3 significantly increased after MEG3 transfection to EC109 cells. Ectopic expression of MEG3 inhibited EC109 cell proliferation and induced apoptosis in vitro. MEG3 overexpression increased the expression of ER stress‑related proteins (GRP78, IRE1, PERK, ATF6, CHOP and cleaved‑caspase-3). Our results first demonstrate that MEG3 is downregulated in ESCC tissues. MEG3 was able to inhibit cell growth and induced apoptosis in EC109 cells, most probably via activation of the ER stress pathway.

Bu LJ, Yu HQ, Fan LL, et al.
Melatonin, a novel selective ATF-6 inhibitor, induces human hepatoma cell apoptosis through COX-2 downregulation.
World J Gastroenterol. 2017; 23(6):986-998 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
AIM: To clarify the mechanisms involved in the critical endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress initiating unfolded protein response pathway modified by melatonin.
METHODS: Hepatoma cells, HepG2, were cultured
RESULTS: In the present study, we first identified that melatonin selectively blocked activating transcription factor 6 (ATF-6) and then inhibited cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression, leading to enhanced liver cancer cell apoptosis under ER stress condition. Dramatically increased CCAAT-enhancer-binding protein homologous protein level, suppressed COX-2 and decreased Bcl-2/Bax ratio by melatonin or ATF-6 siRNA contributed the enhanced HepG2 cell apoptosis under tunicamycin (an ER stress inducer) stimulation. In clinical hepatocellular carcinoma patients, the close relationship between ATF-6 and COX-2 was further confirmed.
CONCLUSION: These findings indicate that melatonin as a novel selective ATF-6 inhibitor can sensitize human hepatoma cells to ER stress inducing apoptosis.

Elia G, Fallahi P
Hepatocellular carcinoma and CXCR3 chemokines: a narrative review.
Clin Ter. 2017 Jan-Feb; 168(1):e37-e41 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) results from several factors like viral hepatitis infection [hepatitis B, or C (25%)] or occupational exposure. T-helper (Th)1 inflammatory cells, characterized by interferon (IFN)-γ and interleukin (IL)-2 secretion, predominate in the liver during chronic HCV infection, and chemokines attracting these cells are particularly important in disease progression. Among C-X-C chemokines, the non-ELR group [as IFN-γ-induced protein 10 (IP-10), monokine induced by IFN-γ (MIG) and IFN-inducible T-cell-alpha chemoattractant (I-TAC)], attracts Th1-cells interacting with chemokine C-X-C receptor (CXCR3). IP-10 has uniquely been shown to have prognostic utility as a marker of treatment outcome. IFN- γ-induced chemokines, as MIG and IP-10, may promote lymphocyte recruitment to HCC playing important roles in cancer immunology. The production of CXC chemokines by HCC cell lines has been shown. It has been identified immune-gene signature that predicts patient survival including the chemokine gene IP-10. Inflammatory cytokines (tumour necrosis factor-α, IFN-γ) and Toll-like receptor 3 ligands stimulate intratumoral production of these chemokines which drive T and Natural Killer cells tumor infiltration, leading to enhanced cancer cell death. Furthermore selective recruitment of CXCR3(+) B-cells that bridges proinflammatory IL-17 response and protumorigenic macrophage polarization in HCC has been shown, suggesting that blocking CXCR3(+) B-cell migration or function may help defeat HCC. It has been also shown that the overexpression of IP-10, which induced by liver graft injury, may lead to cisplatin resistance via ATF6/Grp78 ER stress signaling pathway in HCC; IP-10 neutralizing antibody could be a potential adjuvant therapy to sensitize HCC-cisplatin treatment.

Bi G, Yan J, Sun S, Qu X
PRRT2 inhibits the proliferation of glioma cells by modulating unfolded protein response pathway.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2017; 485(2):454-460 [PubMed] Related Publications
Accumulating studies reported mutations in the gene encoding the proline-rich transmembrane protein 2 (PRRT2) to be causative for several paroxysmal neurological disorders, including paroxysmal kinesigenic dyskinesia (PKD), PKD combined with infantile seizures (ICCA), and benign familial infantile seizures (BFIS). However, the impact of PRRT2 in tumorigenesis is not known. Based on a large-scale data analysis, we found that PRRT2 was down-regulated in glioma tumor tissues compared with normal brain tissue. Dysregulation of PRRT2 was not induced by mutation, copy number variation and epigenetic modification, but modulated by microRNA-30a-5p. Overexpression of PRRT2 strongly impaired the cell viability and promoted cell apoptosis and these anti-tumor effects could be largely reversed by microRNA-30a-5p. Mechanistically, PRRT2 expression was closely correlated genes involved in unfolded protein response (UPR) pathway and introduction of PRRT2 inhibited gene expression in the three branches of UPR, including PERK axis, IRE1 axis and ATF6 axis. Taken together, our findings identify PRRT2 as a tumor suppressor in glioma and provide a promising target for potential therapeutic intervention.

La X, Zhang L, Li Z, et al.
Berberine-induced autophagic cell death by elevating GRP78 levels in cancer cells.
Oncotarget. 2017; 8(13):20909-20924 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Berberine, an isoquinoline alkaloid extracted from Coptidis Rhizoma, has been shown to induce cancer cell autophagic death. Glucose regulated protein 78 (GRP78) is associated with stress-induced autophagy. However, the related mechanisms between berberine-induced cancer cell autophagy and GRP78 remain to be elucidated. Here, we report that berberine can induce autophagic cancer cell death by elevating levels of GRP78. These results further demonstrated that berberine enhanced GRP78 by suppression of ubiquitination / proteasomal degradation of GRP78 and activation of ATF6. Moreover, fluorescence spectrum assay revealed that berberine could bind to GRP78 and form complexes. Finally, co-IP analysis showed that the ability of GRP78 to bind to VPS34 was increased with berberine treatment. Taken together, our results suggest that berberine induces autophagic cancer cell death via enhancing GRP78 levels and the ability of GRP78 to bind to VPS34.

Gade P, Kimball AS, DiNardo AC, et al.
Death-associated Protein Kinase-1 Expression and Autophagy in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Are Dependent on Activating Transcription Factor-6 and CCAAT/Enhancer-binding Protein-β.
J Biol Chem. 2016; 291(42):22030-22042 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Expression of DAPK1, a critical regulator of autophagy and apoptosis, is lost in a wide variety of tumors, although the mechanisms are unclear. A transcription factor complex consisting of ATF6 (an endoplasmic reticulum-resident factor) and C/EBP-β is required for the IFN-γ-induced expression of DAPK1 IFN-γ-induced proteolytic processing of ATF6 and phosphorylation of C/EBP-β are obligatory for the formation of this transcriptional complex. We report that defects in this pathway fail to control growth of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Consistent with these observations, IFN-γ and chemotherapeutics failed to activate autophagy in CLL patient samples lacking ATF6 and/or C/EBP-β. Together, these results identify a molecular basis for the loss of DAPK1 expression in CLL.

Teoh PJ, Bi C, Sintosebastian C, et al.
PRIMA-1 targets the vulnerability of multiple myeloma of deregulated protein homeostasis through the perturbation of ER stress via p73 demethylation.
Oncotarget. 2016; 7(38):61806-61819 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Despite therapeutic advancement, multiple myeloma (MM) remains incurable with drug resistance being one of the main challenges in the clinic. Myeloma cells possess high protein secretory load, leading to increased intracellular endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. Hence, they are vulnerable to further perturbation to its protein homeostasis. In studying the therapeutic mechanism of PRIMA-1 (mutant-p53-reactivating-agent), we uncovered its novel p53-independent-mechanism that can be exploited for myeloma. Despite its inability in restoring the wild type-p53 protein conformation and transcriptional function in the mutant-p53-human-myeloma-cells, PRIMA-1 was efficacious against myeloma cells with differential p53 genotypes. Strikingly, cells without p53 expression demonstrated highest drug sensitivity. Genome-wide gene-expression analysis revealed the involvement of ER stress/UPR-pathway in inducing PRIMA-1-toxicity. UPR markers, HSP70, CHOP and GADD34, were significantly up-regulated, concomitantly with the induction of apoptosis. Furthermore, there was a global attenuation of protein synthesis, correlated with phospho-eIF2a up-regulation. Mechanistically, we identified that PRIMA-1 could cause the demethylation of TP73, through DNMT1 depletion, to subsequently enhance UPR. Of clinical significance, we observed that PRIMA-1 had additive therapeutic effects with another UPR-inducing-agent, bortezomib. Importantly, it can partially re-sensitize bortezomib-resistant cells to bortezomib. Given that MM is already stressed at the baseline in the ER, our results implicated that PRIMA-1 is a potential therapeutic option in MM by targeting its Achilles heel.

Baumann J, Wong J, Sun Y, Conklin DS
Palmitate-induced ER stress increases trastuzumab sensitivity in HER2/neu-positive breast cancer cells.
BMC Cancer. 2016; 16:551 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: HER2/neu-positive breast cancer cells have recently been shown to use a unique Warburg-like metabolism for survival and aggressive behavior. These cells exhibit increased fatty acid synthesis and storage compared to normal breast cells or other tumor cells. Disruption of this synthetic process results in apoptosis. Since the addition of physiological doses of exogenous palmitate induces cell death in HER2/neu-positive breast cancer cells, the pathway is likely operating at its limits in these cells. We have studied the response of HER2/neu-positive breast cancer cells to physiological concentrations of exogenous palmitate to identify lipotoxicity-associated consequences of this physiology. Since epidemiological data show that a diet rich in saturated fatty acids is negatively associated with the development of HER2/neu-positive cancer, this cellular physiology may be relevant to the etiology and treatment of the disease. We sought to identify signaling pathways that are regulated by physiological concentrations of exogenous palmitate specifically in HER2/neu-positive breast cancer cells and gain insights into the molecular mechanism and its relevance to disease prevention and treatment.
METHODS: Transcriptional profiling was performed to assess programs that are regulated in HER2-normal MCF7 and HER2/neu-positive SKBR3 breast cancer cells in response to exogenous palmitate. Computational analyses were used to define and predict functional relationships and identify networks that are differentially regulated in the two cell lines. These predictions were tested using reporter assays, fluorescence-based high content microscopy, flow cytometry and immunoblotting. Physiological effects were confirmed in HER2/neu-positive BT474 and HCC1569 breast cancer cell lines.
RESULTS: Exogenous palmitate induces functionally distinct transcriptional programs in HER2/neu-positive breast cancer cells. In the lipogenic HER2/neu-positive SKBR3 cell line, palmitate induces a G2 phase cell cycle delay and CHOP-dependent apoptosis as well as a partial activation of the ER stress response network via XBP1 and ATF6. This response appears to be a general feature of HER2/neu-positive breast cancer cells but not cells that overexpress only HER2/neu. Exogenous palmitate reduces HER2 and HER3 protein levels without changes in phosphorylation and sensitizes HER2/neu-positive breast cancer cells to treatment with the HER2-targeted therapy trastuzumab.
CONCLUSIONS: Several studies have shown that HER2, FASN and fatty acid synthesis are functionally linked. Exogenous palmitate exerts its toxic effects in part through inducing ER stress, reducing HER2 expression and thereby sensitizing cells to trastuzumab. These data provide further evidence that HER2 signaling and fatty acid metabolism are highly integrated processes that may be important for disease development and progression.

Chen RP, Huang ZL, Liu LX, et al.
Involvement of endoplasmic reticulum stress and p53 in lncRNA MEG3-induced human hepatoma HepG2 cell apoptosis.
Oncol Rep. 2016; 36(3):1649-57 [PubMed] Related Publications
Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) play important roles in diverse biological processes. Although downregulation of lncRNA maternally expressed gene 3 (MEG3) has been identified in several types of cancers, little is known concerning its biological role and regulatory mechanism in hepatoma. Our previous studies demonstrated that MEG3 induces apoptosis in a p53-dependent manner. The aim of the present study was to determine whether endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress is involved in MEG3‑induced apoptosis. Recombinant lentiviral vectors containing MEG3 (Lv‑MEG3) were constructed and transfected into HepG2 cells. A 3‑(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay, RT‑PCR, flow cytometry, western blot analysis, immunofluorescence and immunohistochemistry were applied. Transfected HepG2 cells were also transplanted into nude mice, and the tumor growth curves were determined. The results showed that the recombinant lentivirus of MEG3 was transfected successfully into the HepG2 cells and the expression level of MEG3 was significantly increased. Ectopic expression of MEG3 inhibited HepG2 cell proliferation in vitro and in vivo, and also induced apoptosis. Ectopic expression of MEG3 increased ER stress‑related proteins 78‑kDa glucose‑regulated protein (GRP78), inositol‑requiring enzyme 1 (IRE1), RNA‑dependent protein kinase‑like ER kinase (PERK), activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6), C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP), caspase‑3, as well as p53 and NF‑κB expression accompanied by NF‑κB translocation from the cytoplasm to the nucleus. Furthermore, inhibition of NF‑κB with Bay11‑7082 decreased p53 expression in the MEG3‑transfected cells. These results indicate that MEG3 inhibits cell proliferation and induces apoptosis, partially via the activation of the ER stress and p53 pathway, in which NF‑κB signaling is required for p53 activation in ER stress.

Oh-Hashi K, Irie N, Sakai T, et al.
Elucidation of a novel phenformin derivative on glucose-deprived stress responses in HT-29 cells.
Mol Cell Biochem. 2016; 419(1-2):29-40 [PubMed] Related Publications
Recently, we developed a variety of phenformin derivatives as selective antitumor agents. Based on previous findings, this study evaluated a promising compound, 2-(2-chlorophenyl)ethylbiguanide (2-Cl-Phen), on the basis of stress responses in the human colon cancer cell line HT-29 under a serum- and glucose-deprived condition. 2-Cl-Phen triggered morphological changes such as shrinkage and plasma membrane disintegration, as well as a decrease in mitochondrial activity and an increase in LDH leakage. To understand intracellular issues relating to 2-Cl-Phen, this study focused on the expression levels of ER stress-inducible genes and several oncogenic genes. Serum and glucose deprivation significantly induced a variety of ER stress-inducible genes, but a 12-h treatment of 2-Cl-Phen down-regulated expression of several ER stress-related genes, with the exception of GADD153. Interestingly, the expression levels of ATF6α, GRP78, MANF, and CRELD2 mRNA were almost completely decreased by 2-Cl-Phen. This study also observed that a 24-h treatment of 2-Cl-Phen attenuated the expression levels of GRP78, GADD153, and c-Myc protein. The decrease in c-Myc protein occurred before the fluctuation of GRP78 protein, while the expression of c-Myc mRNA showed little change with cotreatment of serum and glucose deprivation with 2-Cl-Phen. To further understand the 2-Cl-Phen-induced down-regulation of ATF6-related genes, this study investigated the stability of ATF6α and GRP78 proteins using NanoLuc-tagged constructs. The expression levels of NanoLuc-tagged ATF6α and GRP78 were significantly down-regulated by 2-Cl-Phen in the presence or absence of the translation inhibitor cycloheximide. Taken together, our novel phenformin derivative 2-Cl-Phen has the unique characteristic of diminishing tumor adaptive responses, especially the expression of ATF6-related genes, as well as that of c-Myc protein, in a transcriptional and posttranscriptional manner under a serum- and glucose-deprived condition. Further characterization of cytotoxic mechanisms related to phenformin derivatives may give new insights into developing additional promising anticancer agents.

Periyasamy P, Guo ML, Buch S
Cocaine induces astrocytosis through ER stress-mediated activation of autophagy.
Autophagy. 2016; 12(8):1310-29 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Cocaine is known to induce inflammation, thereby contributing in part, to the pathogenesis of neurodegeneration. A recent study from our lab has revealed a link between macroautophagy/autophagy and microglial activation. The current study was aimed at investigating whether cocaine could also mediate activation of astrocytes and, whether this process involved induction of autophagy. Our findings demonstrated that cocaine mediated the activation of astrocytes by altering the levels of autophagy markers, such as BECN1, ATG5, MAP1LC3B-II, and SQSTM1 in both human A172 astrocytoma cells and primary human astrocytes. Furthermore, cocaine treatment resulted in increased formation of endogenous MAP1LC3B puncta in human astrocytes. Additionally, astrocytes transfected with the GFP-MAP1LC3B plasmid also demonstrated cocaine-mediated upregulation of the green fluorescent MAP1LC3B puncta. Cocaine-mediated induction of autophagy involved upstream activation of ER stress proteins such as EIF2AK3, ERN1, ATF6 since blockage of autophagy using either pharmacological or gene-silencing approaches, had no effect on cocaine-mediated induction of ER stress. Using both pharmacological and gene-silencing approaches to block either ER stress or autophagy, our findings demonstrated that cocaine-induced activation of astrocytes (measured by increased levels of GFAP) involved sequential activation of ER stress and autophagy. Cocaine-mediated-increased upregulation of GFAP correlated with increased expression of proinflammatory mediators such as TNF, IL1B, and IL6. In conclusion, these findings reveal an association between ER stress-mediated autophagy and astrogliosis in cocaine-treated astrocytes. Intervention of ER stress and/or autophagy signaling would thus be promising therapeutic targets for abrogating cocaine-mediated neuroinflammation.

Zhang X, Zhang R, Yang H, et al.
Hepatitis B virus enhances cisplatin-induced hepatotoxicity via a mechanism involving suppression of glucose-regulated protein of 78 Kda.
Chem Biol Interact. 2016; 254:45-53 [PubMed] Related Publications
Cisplatin is a classical platinum-based chemotherapeutic drug used in the treatment of many cancer types, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The application of cisplatin is significantly limited by its toxicity, which may be affected by various biological factors. Persistence of Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection leads to HCC development and may be associated with higher incidence of severe hepatitis during chemotherapy. However, whether HBV alters the susceptibility of hepatocytes to cisplatin remains poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate that HBV transfection enhanced cisplatin-induced hepatotoxicity via a mechanism involving suppression of glucose-regulated protein of 78 KDa (Grp78), a major stress-induced chaperone that localizes to the endoplasmic reticulum. Silencing Grp78 gene increased the susceptibility of HepG2 to cisplatin by activating caspase-3. Grp78 expression was down-regulated by HBV infection both in vitro and in liver tissues of patients. We compared the cisplatin sensitivity of hepatoma cells either expressing (HepG2.2.15 cells) or not expressing the entire Hepatitis B Virus genome (HepG2). HepG2.2.15 cells showed increased sensitivity to cisplatin and a higher apoptosis rate. Overexpression of Grp78 counteracted the increase of sensitivity of HepG2.215 cells to cisplatin. Furthermore, we found that HBV disrupted Grp78 synthesis in response to cisplatin stimulation, which may trigger severe and prolonged endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress that can induce cellular apoptosis. Our findings provide new information into the effect of HBV in the modulation of Grp78 expression, and, consequently on cisplatin-induced hepatotoxicity during viral infection.

Zhang L, Hapon MB, Goyeneche AA, et al.
Mifepristone increases mRNA translation rate, triggers the unfolded protein response, increases autophagic flux, and kills ovarian cancer cells in combination with proteasome or lysosome inhibitors.
Mol Oncol. 2016; 10(7):1099-117 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The synthetic steroid mifepristone blocks the growth of ovarian cancer cells, yet the mechanism driving such effect is not entirely understood. Unbiased genomic and proteomic screenings using ovarian cancer cell lines of different genetic backgrounds and sensitivities to platinum led to the identification of two key genes upregulated by mifepristone and involved in the unfolded protein response (UPR): the master chaperone of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), glucose regulated protein (GRP) of 78 kDa, and the CCAAT/enhancer binding protein homologous transcription factor (CHOP). GRP78 and CHOP were upregulated by mifepristone in ovarian cancer cells regardless of p53 status and platinum sensitivity. Further studies revealed that the three UPR-associated pathways, PERK, IRE1α, and ATF6, were activated by mifepristone. Also, the synthetic steroid acutely increased mRNA translation rate, which, if prevented, abrogated the splicing of XBP1 mRNA, a non-translatable readout of IRE1α activation. Moreover, mifepristone increased LC3-II levels due to increased autophagic flux. When the autophagic-lysosomal pathway was inhibited with chloroquine, mifepristone was lethal to the cells. Lastly, doses of proteasome inhibitors that are inadequate to block the activity of the proteasomes, caused cell death when combined with mifepristone; this phenotype was accompanied by accumulation of poly-ubiquitinated proteins denoting proteasome inhibition. The stimulation by mifepristone of ER stress and autophagic flux offers a therapeutic opportunity for utilizing this compound to sensitize ovarian cancer cells to proteasome or lysosome inhibitors.

Banerjee A, Ahmed H, Yang P, et al.
Endoplasmic reticulum stress and IRE-1 signaling cause apoptosis in colon cancer cells in response to andrographolide treatment.
Oncotarget. 2016; 7(27):41432-41444 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The plant metabolite andrographolide induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in cancer cells. The mechanism(s) by which andrographolide induces apoptosis however, have not been elucidated. The present study was performed to determine the molecular events that promote apoptosis in andrographolide treated cells using T84, HCT116 and COLO 205 colon cancer cell lines. Andrographolide was determined to limit colony formation and Ki67 expression, alter nuclear morphology, increase cytoplasmic histone-associated-DNA-fragments, and increase cleaved caspase-3 levels. Andrographolide also induced significantly higher expression of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress proteins GRP-78 and IRE-1 by 48 h but not PERK or ATF6. Apoptosis signaling molecules BAX, spliced XBP-1 and CHOP were also significantly increased. Moreover, chemical inhibition of ER stress or IRE-1 depletion with siRNA in andrographolide treated cells significantly limited expression of IRE-1 and CHOP as determined by immunofluorescence staining, real time PCR, or immunobloting. This was accompanied by a decreased BAX/Bcl-2 ratio. Andrographolide significantly promotes cancer cell death compared to normal cells. These data demonstrate that andrographolide associated ER stress contributes to apoptosis through the activation of a pro-apoptotic GRP-78/IRE-1/XBP-1/CHOP signaling pathway.

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