Caspase-2 and JNK activated by saturated fatty acids are not involved in apoptosis induction but modulate ER stress in human pancreatic β-cells

Vlasta Němcová-Fürstová, Kamila Balušíková, Jan Srámek, Roger F James, Jan Kovář
Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry 2013, 31 (2-3): 277-89

BACKGROUND: Fatty acid-induced apoptosis and ER stress of pancreatic β-cells contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes, however, the molecular mechanisms involved are unclear.

AIMS: In this study we have tested the role of caspase-2 and suggested ER stress mediator JNK in saturated fatty acid-induced apoptosis of the human pancreatic β-cells NES2Y.

RESULTS: We found that stearic acid at apoptosis-inducing concentration activated ER stress signaling pathways, i.e. IRE1α, PERK and ATF6 pathways, in NES2Y cells. During stearic acid-induced apoptosis, JNK inhibition did not decrease the rate of apoptosis nor the activation of caspase-8, -9, -7 and -2 and PARP cleavage. In addition, inhibition of JNK activity did not affect CHOP expression although it did decrease the induction of BiP expression after stearic acid treatment. Caspase-2 silencing had no effect on PARP as well as caspase-8, -9 and -7 cleavage and the induction of CHOP expression, however, it also decreased the induction of BiP expression. Surprisingly, caspase-2 silencing was accompanied by increased phosphorylation of c-Jun.

CONCLUSIONS: We have demonstrated that caspase-2 as well as JNK are not key players in apoptosis induction by saturated fatty acids in human pancreatic β-cells NES2Y. However, they appear to be involved in the modulation of saturated fatty acid-induced ER stress signaling, probably by a mechanism independent of c-Jun phosphorylation.

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