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Diabetes. 2009 Feb;58(2):422-32. doi: 10.2337/db07-1762. Epub 2008 Nov 25.

Roles of IP3R and RyR Ca2+ channels in endoplasmic reticulum stress and beta-cell death.

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  • 1Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Comlumbia, Canada.



Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress has been implicated in the pathogenesis of diabetes, but the roles of specific ER Ca(2+) release channels in the ER stress-associated apoptosis pathway remain unknown. Here, we examined the effects of stimulating or inhibiting the ER-resident inositol trisphosphate receptors (IP(3)Rs) and the ryanodine receptors (RyRs) on the induction of beta-cell ER stress and apoptosis.


Kinetics of beta-cell death were tracked by imaging propidium iodide incorporation and caspase-3 activity in real time. ER stress and apoptosis were assessed by Western blot. Mitochondrial membrane potential was monitored by flow cytometry. Cytosolic Ca(2+) was imaged using fura-2, and genetically encoded fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based probes were used to measure Ca(2+) in ER and mitochondria.


Neither RyR nor IP(3)R inhibition, alone or in combination, caused robust death within 24 h. In contrast, blocking sarco/endoplasmic reticulum ATPase (SERCA) pumps depleted ER Ca(2+) and induced marked phosphorylation of PKR-like ER kinase (PERK) and eukaryotic initiation factor-2alpha (eIF2alpha), C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP)-associated ER stress, caspase-3 activation, and death. Notably, ER stress following SERCA inhibition was attenuated by blocking IP(3)Rs and RyRs. Conversely, stimulation of ER Ca(2+) release channels accelerated thapsigargin-induced ER depletion and apoptosis. SERCA block also activated caspase-9 and induced perturbations of the mitochondrial membrane potential, resulting eventually in the loss of mitochondrial polarization.


This study demonstrates that the activity of ER Ca(2+) channels regulates the susceptibility of beta-cells to ER stress resulting from impaired SERCA function. Our results also suggest the involvement of mitochondria in beta-cell apoptosis associated with dysfunctional beta-cell ER Ca(2+) homeostasis and ER stress.

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