Proapoptotic BAX and BAK Modulate the Unfolded Protein Response by a Direct Interaction with IRE1α

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Science  28 Apr 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5773, pp. 572-576
DOI: 10.1126/science.1123480

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Accumulation of misfolded protein in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) triggers an adaptive stress response—termed the unfolded protein response (UPR)—mediated by the ER transmembrane protein kinase and endoribonuclease inositol-requiring enzyme–1α (IRE1α). We investigated UPR signaling events in mice in the absence of the proapoptotic BCL-2 family members BAX and BAK [double knockout (DKO)]. DKO mice responded abnormally to tunicamycin-induced ER stress in the liver, with extensive tissue damage and decreased expression of the IRE1 substrate X-box–binding protein 1 and its target genes. ER-stressed DKO cells showed deficient IRE1α signaling. BAX and BAK formed a protein complex with the cytosolic domain of IRE1α that was essential for IRE1α activation. Thus, BAX and BAK function at the ER membrane to activate IRE1α signaling and to provide a physical link between members of the core apoptotic pathway and the UPR.

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