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Cell. 2012 Jun 8;149(6):1257-68. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2012.03.050.

A thrombospondin-dependent pathway for a protective ER stress response.

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Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital, University of Cincinnati, OH 45247, USA.


Thrombospondin (Thbs) proteins are induced in sites of tissue damage or active remodeling. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response is also prominently induced with disease where it regulates protein production and resolution of misfolded proteins. Here we describe a function for Thbs as ER-resident effectors of an adaptive ER stress response. Thbs4 cardiac-specific transgenic mice were protected from myocardial injury, whereas Thbs4(-/-) mice were sensitized to cardiac maladaptation. Thbs induction produced a unique profile of adaptive ER stress response factors and expansion of the ER and downstream vesicles. Thbs bind the ER lumenal domain of activating transcription factor 6α (Atf6α) to promote its nuclear shuttling. Thbs4(-/-) mice showed blunted activation of Atf6α and other ER stress-response factors with injury, and Thbs4-mediated protection was lost upon Atf6α deletion. Hence, Thbs can function inside the cell during disease remodeling to augment ER function and protect through a mechanism involving regulation of Atf6α.

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