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Autophagy. 2008 Aug;4(6):841-3. Epub 2008 Jul 15.

Regulation of ER stress-induced macroautophagy by protein kinase C.

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Department of Biological Chemistry, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-0650, USA.


The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is the primary site for folding and quality control for proteins destined to the cell surface and intracellular organelles. A variety of cellular insults alter ER homeostasis to disrupt protein folding, cause the accumulation of misfolded proteins, and activate an autophagic response. However, the molecular signaling pathways required for ER stress-induced autophagy are largely unknown. Recently, we discovered that a novel-type protein kinase C family member (PKCtheta) is required for ER stress-induced autophagy. We show that ER stress, in a Ca(2+)-dependent manner, induces PKCtheta phosphorylation within the activation loop and localization with LC3-II in punctate cytoplasmic structures. Pharmacological inhibition, siRNA-mediated knockdown, or transdominant-negative mutant expression of PKCtheta block the ER stress-induced autophagic response. PKCtheta activation is not required for autophagy induced by amino acid starvation, and PKCtheta activation in response to ER stress does not require either the mTOR kinase or the unfolded protein response signaling pathways. Herein, we review and discuss the significance of these findings with respect to regulation of autophagy in response to ER stress.

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