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J Biol Chem. 2012 Dec 28;287(53):44338-44. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.428987. Epub 2012 Nov 12.

Uncoupling proteostasis and development in vitro with a small molecule inhibitor of the pancreatic endoplasmic reticulum kinase, PERK.

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Metabolic Research Laboratories, University of Cambridge, and National Institute for Health Research Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, United Kingdom.


Loss-of-function mutations in EIF2AK3, encoding the pancreatic endoplasmic reticulum (ER) kinase, PERK, are associated with dysfunction of the endocrine pancreas and diabetes. However, to date it has not been possible to uncouple the long term developmental effects of PERK deficiency from sensitization to physiological levels of ER unfolded protein stress upon interruption of PERK modulation of protein synthesis rates. Here, we report that a selective PERK inhibitor acutely deregulates protein synthesis in freshly isolated islets of Langerhans, across a range of glucose concentrations. Acute loss of the PERK-mediated strand of the unfolded protein response leads to rapid accumulation of misfolded pro-insulin in cultured beta cells and is associated with a kinetic defect in pro-insulin processing. These in vitro observations uncouple the latent role of PERK in beta cell development from the regulation of unfolded protein flux through the ER and attest to the importance of the latter in beta cell proteostasis.

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