ERK2 Mediates Metabolic Stress Response to Regulate Cell Fate.
ABSTRACT: Insufficient nutrients disrupt physiological homeostasis, resulting in diseases and even death. Considering the physiological and pathological consequences of this metabolic stress, the adaptive responses that cells utilize under this condition are of great interest. We show that under low-glucose conditions, cells initiate adaptation followed by apoptosis responses using PERK/Akt and MEK1/ERK2 signaling, respectively. For adaptation, cells engage the ER stress-induced unfolded protein response, which results in PERK/Akt activation and cell survival. Sustained and extreme energetic stress promotes a switch to isoform-specific MEK1/ERK2 signaling, induction of GCN2/eIF2? phosphorylation, and ATF4 expression, which overrides PERK/Akt-mediated adaptation and induces apoptosis through ATF4-dependent expression of pro-apoptotic factors including Bid and Trb3. ERK2 activation during metabolic stress contributes to changes in TCA cycle and amino acid metabolism, and cell death, which is suppressed by glutamate and ?-ketoglutarate supplementation. Taken together, our results reveal promising targets to protect cells or tissues from metabolic stress.
Project description:In response to cellular stresses, activating transcriptional factor 4 (ATF4) regulates the expression of both stress-relieving genes and apoptosis-inducing genes, eliciting cell fate determination. Since pharmacological activation of ATF4 exerts potent anti-tumor effects, modulators of ATF4 activation may have potential in cancer therapy. We herein attempted to identify small molecules that activate ATF4. A cell-based screening to monitor <i>TRB3</i> promoter activation was performed using crude drugs used in traditional Japanese Kampo medicine. We found that an extract from <i>Sophora flavescens</i> roots exhibited potent <i>TRB3</i> promoter activation. The activity-guided fractionation revealed that kurarinone was identified as the active ingredient. Intriguingly, ATF4 activation in response to kurarinone required PKR-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK). Moreover, kurarinone induced the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21 as well as cytostasis in cancer cells. Importantly, the cytostatic effect of kurarinone was reduced by pharmacological inhibition of PERK. These results indicate that kurarinone triggers ATF4 activation through PERK and exerts cytostatic effects on cancer cells. Taken together, our results suggest that modulation of the PERK-ATF4 pathway with kurarinone has potential as a cancer treatment.
Project description:A hallmark of obesity is selective suppression of hepatic insulin signaling ("insulin resistance"), but critical gaps remain in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms. We now report a major role for hepatic CaMKII, a calcium-responsive kinase that is activated in obesity. Genetic targeting of hepatic CaMKII, its downstream mediator p38, or the p38 substrate and stabilizer MK2 enhances insulin-induced p-Akt in palmitate-treated hepatocytes and obese mouse liver, leading to metabolic improvement. The mechanism of improvement begins with induction of ATF6 and the ATF6 target p58(IPK), a chaperone that suppresses the PERK-p-eIF2?-ATF4 branch of the UPR. The result is a decrease in the ATF4 target TRB3, an inhibitor of insulin-induced p-Akt, leading to enhanced activation of Akt and its downstream metabolic mediators. These findings increase our understanding of the molecular mechanisms linking obesity to selective insulin resistance and suggest new therapeutic targets for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Project description:Growth factors, insulin, oxidative stress, and cytokines activate ERK1/2 by PKCδ and MEK1/2. Human biliverdin reductase (hBVR), a Ser/Thr/Tyr kinase and intracellular scaffold/bridge/anchor, is a nuclear transporter of MEK1/2-stimulated ERK1/2 (Lerner-Marmarosh, N., Miralem, T., Gibbs, P. E., and Maines, M. D. (2008) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 105, 6870-6875). hBVR, PKCδ, and MEK1/2 overlap in their tissue expression profile and type of activators. Presently, we report on formation of an hBVR-PKCδ-ERK2 ternary complex that is essential for ERK2 signal transduction and activation of genes linked to cell proliferation and cancer. MEK1/2 and the protein phosphatase PP2A were also present in the complex. When cells were stimulated with insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), an increased interaction between hBVR and PKCδ was detected by FRET-fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy. hBVR and ERK2 were phosphorylated by PKCδ; however, the PKC was not a substrate for either ERK2 or hBVR. IGF-1 and phorbol ester increased hBVR/PKCδ binding; hBVR was required for the activation of PKCδ and its interaction with ERK2. The C-terminal phenylalanine residues of PKCδ (Phe(660), Phe(663), and Phe(665)) were necessary for binding to ERK2 but not for hBVR binding. Formation of the hBVR-PKCδ-ERK2 complex required the hBVR docking site for ERK, FXFP (DEF, C-box) and D(δ)-box (ILXXLXL) motifs. The hBVR-based peptide KKRILHCLGLA inhibited PKC activation and PKCδ/ERK2 interaction. Phorbol ester- and TNF-α-dependent activation of the ERK-regulated transcription factors Elk1 and NF-κB and expression of the iNOS gene were suppressed by hBVR siRNA; those activities were rescued by hBVR. The findings reveal the direct input of hBVR in PKCδ/ERK signaling and identify hBVR-based peptide regulators of ERK-mediated gene activation.
Project description:C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP) is a stress-inducible nuclear protein that is crucial for the development of programmed cell death and regeneration; however, the regulation of its function has not been well characterized. Slbo, a Drosophila homolog of C/EBP (CCAAT/enhancer binding protein), was shown to be unstabilized by tribbles. Here, we identified TRB3 as a tribbles ortholog in humans, which associated with CHOP to suppress the CHOP-dependent transactivation. TRB3 is induced by various forms endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress later than CHOP. Tunicamycin treatment enhanced the TRB3 promoter activity, while dominant-negative forms of CHOP suppressed the tunicamycin-induced activation. In addition, the tunicamycin response region in the TRB3 promoter contains amino-acid response elements overlapping the CHOP-binding site, and CHOP and ATF4 cooperated to activate this promoter activity. Knockdown of endogenous ATF4 or CHOP expression dramatically repressed tunicamycin-induced TRB3 induction. Furthermore, knockdown of TRB3 expression decreased ER stress-dependent cell death. These results indicate that TRB3 is a novel target of CHOP/ATF4 and downregulates its own induction by repression of CHOP/ATF4 functions, and that it is involved in CHOP-dependent cell death during ER stress.
Project description:Uncoupling of ERK1/2 phosphorylation from subcellular localization is essential towards the understanding of molecular mechanisms that control ERK1/2-mediated cell-fate decision. ERK1/2 non-catalytic functions and discoveries of new specific anchors responsible of the subcellular compartmentalization of ERK1/2 signaling pathway have been proposed as regulation mechanisms for which dynamic monitoring of ERK1/2 localization is necessary. However, studying the spatiotemporal features of ERK2, for instance, in different cellular processes in living cells and tissues requires a tool that can faithfully report on its subcellular distribution. We developed a novel molecular tool, ERK2-LOC, based on the T2A-mediated coexpression of strictly equimolar levels of eGFP-ERK2 and MEK1, to faithfully visualize ERK2 localization patterns. MEK1 and eGFP-ERK2 were expressed reliably and functionally both in vitro and in single living cells. We then assessed the subcellular distribution and mobility of ERK2-LOC using fluorescence microscopy in non-stimulated conditions and after activation/inhibition of the MAPK/ERK1/2 signaling pathway. Finally, we used our coexpression system in Xenopus laevis embryos during the early stages of development. This is the first report on MEK1/ERK2 T2A-mediated coexpression in living embryos, and we show that there is a strong correlation between the spatiotemporal subcellular distribution of ERK2-LOC and the phosphorylation patterns of ERK1/2. Our approach can be used to study the spatiotemporal localization of ERK2 and its dynamics in a variety of processes in living cells and embryonic tissues.
Project description:Defective insulin signaling in hepatocytes is a key factor in type 2 diabetes. In obesity, activation of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) in hepatocytes suppresses ATF6, which triggers a PERK-ATF4-TRB3 pathway that disrupts insulin signaling. Elucidating how CaMKII suppresses ATF6 is therefore essential to understanding this insulin resistance pathway. We show that CaMKII phosphorylates and blocks nuclear translocation of histone deacetylase 4 (HDAC4). As a result, HDAC4-mediated SUMOylation of the corepressor DACH1 is decreased, which protects DACH1 from proteasomal degradation. DACH1, together with nuclear receptor corepressor (NCOR), represses Atf6 transcription, leading to activation of the PERK-TRB3 pathway and defective insulin signaling. DACH1 is increased in the livers of obese mice and humans, and treatment of obese mice with liver-targeted constitutively nuclear HDAC4 or DACH1 small hairpin RNA (shRNA) increases ATF6, improves hepatocyte insulin signaling, and protects against hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia. Thus, DACH1-mediated corepression in hepatocytes emerges as an important link between obesity and insulin resistance.
Project description:It has been demonstrated that MEK1, one of the two MEK isoforms in Raf-MEK-ERK1/2 pathway, is essential for successful EV71 propagation. However, the distinct function of ERK1 and ERK2 isoforms, the downstream kinases of MEKs, remains unclear in EV71 replication. In this study, specific ERK siRNAs and selective inhibitor U0126 were applied. Silencing specific ERK did not significantly impact on the EV71-caused biphasic activation of the other ERK isoform, suggesting the EV71-induced activations of ERK1 and ERK2 were non-discriminative and independent to one another. Knockdown of either ERK1 or ERK2 markedly impaired progeny EV71 propagation (both by more than 90%), progeny viral RNA amplification (either by about 30% to 40%) and protein synthesis (both by around 70%), indicating both ERK1 and ERK2 were critical and not interchangeable to EV71 propagation. Moreover, suppression of EV71 replication by inhibiting both early and late phases of ERK1/2 activation showed no significant difference from that of only blocking the late phase, supporting the late phase activation was more importantly responsible for EV71 life cycle. Taken together, this study for the first time identified both ERK1 and ERK2 were required for EV71 efficient replication and further verified the important role of MEK1-ERK1/2 in EV71 replication.
Project description:The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) responds to changes in intracellular homeostasis through activation of the unfolded protein response (UPR). Yet, it is not known how UPR-signaling coordinates adaptation versus cell death. Previous studies suggested that signaling through PERK/ATF4 is required for cell death. We show that high levels of ER stress (i.e., ischemia-like conditions) induce transcription of the ubiquitin ligases Siah1/2 through the UPR transducers PERK/ATF4 and IRE1/sXBP1. In turn, Siah1/2 attenuates proline hydroxylation of ATF4, resulting in its stabilization, thereby augmenting ER stress output. Conversely, ATF4 activation is reduced upon Siah1/2 KD in cultured cells, which attenuates ER stress-induced cell death. Notably, Siah1a(+/-)::Siah2(-/-) mice subjected to neuronal ischemia exhibited smaller infarct volume and were protected from ischemia-induced death, compared with the wild type (WT) mice. In all, Siah1/2 constitutes an obligatory fine-tuning mechanism that predisposes cells to death under severe ER stress conditions.
Project description:Hypoxic stress results in a rapid and sustained inhibition of protein synthesis that is at least partially mediated by eukaryotic initiation factor 2alpha (eIF2alpha) phosphorylation by the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) kinase PERK. Here we show through microarray analysis of polysome-bound RNA in aerobic and hypoxic HeLa cells that a subset of transcripts are preferentially translated during hypoxia, including activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4), an important mediator of the unfolded protein response. Changes in mRNA translation during the unfolded protein response are mediated by PERK phosphorylation of the translation initiation factor eIF2alpha at Ser-51. Similarly, PERK is activated and is responsible for translational regulation under hypoxic conditions, while inducing the translation of ATF4. The overexpression of a C-terminal fragment of GADD34 that constitutively dephosphorylates eIF2alpha was able to attenuate the phosphorylation of eIF2alpha and severely inhibit the induction of ATF4 in response to hypoxic stress. These studies demonstrate the essential role of ATF4 in the response to hypoxic stress, define the pathway for its induction, and reveal that GADD34, a target of ATF4 activation, negatively regulates the eIF2alpha-mediated inhibition of translation. Taken with the concomitant induction of additional ER-resident proteins identified by our microarray analysis, this study suggests an important integrated response between ER signaling and the cellular adaptation to hypoxic stress.
Project description:The mitogen-activated protein kinase ERK2 is able to elicit a wide range of context-specific responses to distinct stimuli, but the mechanisms underlying this versatility remain in question. Some cellular functions of ERK2 are mediated through regulation of gene expression. In addition to phosphorylating numerous transcriptional regulators, ERK2 is known to associate with chromatin and has been shown to bind oligonucleotides directly. ERK2 is activated by the upstream kinases MEK1/2, which phosphorylate both tyrosine 185 and threonine 183. ERK2 requires phosphorylation on both sites to be fully active. Some additional ERK2 phosphorylation sites have also been reported, including threonine 188. It has been suggested that this phospho form has distinct properties. We detected some ERK2 phosphorylated on T188 in bacterial preparations of ERK2 by mass spectrometry and further demonstrate that phosphomimetic substitution of this ERK2 residue impairs its kinase activity toward well-defined substrates and also affects its DNA binding. We used electrophoretic mobility shift assays with oligonucleotides derived from the insulin gene promoter and other regions to examine effects of phosphorylation and mutations on the binding of ERK2 to DNA. We show that ERK2 can bind oligonucleotides directly. Phosphorylation and mutations alter DNA binding and support the idea that signaling functions may be influenced through an alternate phosphorylation site.