Author(s): Morishima N, Nakanishi K, Nakano A
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Abstract Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress is involved in both physiological and pathological apoptosis. ER stress triggers the unfolded protein response (UPR), which can then initiate apoptosis, when the cell fails to restore ER homeostasis. However, the mechanism employed by the UPR to lead cells into apoptosis is unknown. Among the three proximal sensors of ER stress, activating transcription factor-6 (ATF6) is specifically activated in apoptotic myoblasts during myoblast differentiation. This implies that active ATF6 has the ability to mediate apoptosis. Here, we demonstrate that overexpression of active ATF6 induced apoptosis in myoblast cells. Moreover, coexpression of a dominant negative form of ATF6 suppressed apoptosis. This suggested that apoptosis-related pathways depended on ATF6-mediated transcription activation. ATF6 caused up-regulation of the WBP1 (WW domain binding protein 1), probably via an indirect mechanism. Furthermore, WBP1 was also found to be proapoptotic. The silencing of WBP1 with small hairpin RNAs caused partial, but significant suppression of ATF6-induced apoptosis. Overexpression of active ATF6 or WBP1 caused a specific reduction in an anti-apoptotic protein, Mcl-1 (myeloid cell leukemia sequence 1). This suggested a molecular link between the UPR and an apoptosis regulator. Neither Bcl-2 nor Bcl-x(L) were reduced upon apoptosis induction in C2C12 cells that overexpressed ATF6 or WBP1. Cells treated with ER stressors underwent apoptosis concomitant with an up-regulation of WBP1 and suppression of Mcl-1. These results suggested that Mcl-1 is a determinant of cell fate, and ATF6 mediates apoptosis via specific suppression of Mcl-1 through up-regulation of WBP1.
This article was published in J Biol Chem
and referenced in Biochemistry & Pharmacology: Open Access