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A survival pathway for Caenorhabditis elegans with a blocked unfolded protein response.

Urano F., Calfon M., Yoneda T., Yun C., Kiraly M., Clark S.G., Ron D.

The unfolded protein response (UPR) counteracts stress caused by unprocessed ER client proteins. A genome-wide survey showed impaired induction of many UPR target genes in xbp-1 mutant Caenorhabditis elegans that are unable to signal in the highly conserved IRE1-dependent UPR pathway. However a family of genes, abu (activated in blocked UPR), was induced to higher levels in ER-stressed xbp-1 mutant animals than in ER-stressed wild-type animals. RNA-mediated interference (RNAi) inactivation of a representative abu family member, abu-1 (AC3.3), activated the ER stress marker hsp-4::gfp in otherwise normal animals and killed 50% of ER-stressed ire-1 and xbp-1 mutant animals. Abu-1(RNAi) also enhanced the effect of inactivation of sel-1, an ER-associated protein degradation gene. The nine abu genes encode highly related type I transmembrane proteins whose lumenal domains have sequence similarity to a mammalian cell surface scavenger receptor of endothelial cells that binds chemically modified extracellular proteins and directs their lysosomal degradation. Our findings that ABU-1 is an intracellular protein located within the endomembrane system that is induced by ER stress in xbp-1 mutant animals suggest that ABU proteins may interact with abnormal ER client proteins and this function may be particularly important in animals with an impaired UPR.

J. Cell Biol. 158:639-646(2002) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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