Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
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ER stress signaling has an activating transcription factor 6α (ATF6)-dependent "off-switch"

journal contribution
posted on 2022-09-02, 16:00 authored by Franziska Walter, Aisling O'Brien, Caoimhín G Concannon, Heiko DuessmannHeiko Duessmann, Jochen PrehnJochen Prehn

In response to an accumulation of unfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) lumen, three ER transmembrane signaling proteins, inositol-requiring enzyme 1 (IRE1), PRKR-like ER kinase (PERK), and activating transcription factor 6α (ATF6α), are activated. These proteins initiate a signaling and transcriptional network termed the unfolded protein response (UPR), which re-establishes cellular proteostasis. When this restoration fails, however, cells undergo apoptosis. To investigate cross-talk between these different UPR enzymes, here we developed a high-content live cell screening platform to image fluorescent UPR-reporter cell lines derived from human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells in which different ER stress signaling proteins were silenced through lentivirus-delivered shRNA constructs. We observed that loss of ATF6 expression results in uncontrolled IRE1-reporter activity and increases X box-binding protein 1 (XBP1) splicing. Transient increases in both IRE1 mRNA and IRE1 protein levels were observed in response to ER stress, suggesting that IRE1 up-regulation is a general feature of ER stress signaling and was further increased in cells lacking ATF6 expression. Moreover, overexpression of the transcriptionally active N-terminal domain of ATF6 reversed the increases in IRE1 levels. Furthermore, inhibition of IRE1 kinase activity or of downstream JNK activity prevented an increase in IRE1 levels during ER stress, suggesting that IRE1 transcription is regulated through a positive feed-forward loop. Collectively, our results indicate that from the moment of activation, IRE1 signaling during ER stress has an ATF6-dependent "off-switch." 


Science Foundation Ireland InvestigatorAward 13/IA/1881



The original article is available at

Published Citation

Walter F, O'Brien A, Concannon CG, Düssmann H, Prehn JHM. ER stress signaling has an activating transcription factor 6α (ATF6)-dependent "off-switch". J Biol Chem. 2018;293(47):18270-18284.

Publication Date

4 October 2018

PubMed ID



  • Centre for Systems Medicine
  • Physiology and Medical Physics


American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


  • Published Version (Version of Record)