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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2010 Nov 12;402(2):235-40. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2010.09.132. Epub 2010 Oct 8.

Endoplasmic reticulum stress increases the expression and function of toll-like receptor-2 in epithelial cells.

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Department of Molecular Medicine, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Global COE Cell Fate Regulation Research and Education Unit, Kumamoto University, 5-1 Oe-Honmachi, Kumamoto 862-0973, Japan.


Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress is involved in a wide range of pathological conditions including neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes mellitus, atherosclerosis, inflammation, and infection. The ability of ER stress to induce an inflammatory response is considered to play a role in the pathogenesis of these diseases. However, its role in regulating the gene expression and function of toll-like receptors (TLRs), host defense receptors that recognize invading pathogens, remains unknown. Here we showed that several well-characterized ER stress inducers (thapsigargin, tunicamycin, and dithiothreitol) increase the expression of TLR2 in epithelial cells. Ligand-responsiveness of TLR2 was also enhanced by ER stress inducers, implying a contributory role of ER stress for the regulation of TLR2-dependent inflammatory responses. Furthermore, there was significant increase of TLR2 mRNA level in the livers of tunicamycin-treated mice and high-fat diet-fed mice, suggesting an impact of ER stress in vivo on the expression of TLR2. Overexpression and knockdown experiments showed the importance of activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4), an ER stress-induced transcription factor, in the induction of TLR2 expression during ER stress. This was confirmed by the increased expression and function of TLR2 during treatment with salubrinal, an activator of ATF4 pathway. Taken together, our study provides further insights into the role of ER stress in enhancing host bacterial response or in exaggerating the inflammatory condition via up-regulating TLR2 expression.

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