ATF4 mediates mitochondrial unfolded protein response in alveolar epithelial cells

Academic Article


  • Although endoplasmic reticulum (ER) unfolded protein response (UPRER) is well known, mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRmt) has not been recognized in alveolar epithelial cells. Furthermore, ER stress and mitochondrial dysfunction are frequently encountered in alveolar epithelial cells from an array of lung disorders. However, these two scenarios have been often regarded as separate mechanisms contributing to the pathogeneses. It is unclear whether there is interplay between these two phenomena or an integrator that couples these two signaling cascades in the stressed alveolar epithelial cells from those pathologies. In this study, we defined UPRmt in alveolar epithelial cells and identified ATF4 (activating transcription factor 4), but not ATF5, as the key regulator of UPRmt.We found that UPRER led to UPRmt and mitochondrial dysfunction in an ATF4-dependent manner. In contrast, mitochondrial stresses did not activate UPRER. We found that alveolar epithelial ATF4 and UPRmt were induced in aged mice with experimental pulmonary fibrosis as well as in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Finally, we found that the inducible expression of ATF4 in mouse alveolar epithelial cells aggravated pulmonary UPRmt, lung inflammation, body weight loss, and death upon bleomycin-induced lung injury. In conclusion, ER stress induces ATF4-dependent UPRmt and mitochondrial dysfunction, indicating a novel mechanism by which ER stress contributes to the pathogeneses of a variety of pulmonary disorders.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Jiang D; Cui H; Xie N; Banerjee S; Liu RM; Dai H; Thannickal VJ; Liu G
  • Start Page

  • 478
  • End Page

  • 489
  • Volume

  • 63
  • Issue

  • 4