Role of the endoplasmic reticulum unfolded protein response in glomerular epithelial cell injury

Andrey V Cybulsky, Tomoko Takano, Joan Papillon, Krikor Bijian
Journal of Biological Chemistry 2005 July 1, 280 (26): 24396-403
C5b-9-induced glomerular epithelial cell (GEC) injury in vivo (in passive Heymann nephritis) and in culture is associated with damage to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and increased expression of ER stress proteins. Induction of ER stress proteins is enhanced via cytosolic phospholipase A(2) (cPLA(2)) and limits complement-dependent cytotoxicity. The present study addresses another aspect of the ER unfolded protein response, i.e. activation of protein kinase R-like ER kinase (PERK or pancreatic ER kinase), which phosphorylates eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2-alpha (eIF2alpha), thereby generally suppressing translation and decreasing the protein load on a damaged ER. Phosphorylation of eIF2alpha was enhanced significantly in glomeruli of proteinuric rats with passive Heymann nephritis, compared with control. In cultured GECs, complement induced phosphorylation of eIF2alpha and reduced protein synthesis, and complement-stimulated phosphorylation of eIF2alpha was enhanced by overexpression of cPLA(2). Ischemia-reperfusion in vitro (deoxyglucose plus antimycin A followed by glucose re-exposure) also stimulated eIF2alpha phosphorylation and reduced protein synthesis. Complement and ischemia-reperfusion induced phosphorylation of PERK (which correlates with activation), and fibroblasts from PERK knock-out mice were more susceptible to complement- and ischemia-reperfusion-mediated cytotoxicity, as compared with wild type fibroblasts. The GEC protein, nephrin, plays a key role in maintaining glomerular permselectivity. In contrast to a general reduction in protein synthesis, translation regulated by the 5'-end of mouse nephrin mRNA during ER stress was paradoxically maintained, probably due to the presence of short open reading frames in this mRNA segment. Thus, phosphorylation of eIF2alpha and consequent general reduction in protein synthesis may be a novel mechanism for limiting complement- or ischemia-reperfusion-dependent GEC injury.

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