Atf6α impacts cell number by influencing survival, death and proliferation
Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental
© 2019 Background: A growing body of literature suggests the cell–intrinsic activity of Atf6α during ER stress responses has implications for tissue cell number during growth and development, as well as in adult biology and tumorigenesis . This concept is important, linking the cellular processes of secretory protein synthesis and endoplasmic reticulum stress response with functional tissue capacity and organ size. However, the field contains conflicting observations, especially notable in secretory cell types like the pancreatic beta cell. Scope of review: Here we summarize current knowledge of the basic biology of Atf6α, along with the pleiotropic roles Atf6α plays in cell life and death decisions and possible explanations for conflicting observations. We include studies investigating the roles of Atf6α in cell survival, death and proliferation using well-controlled methodology and specific validated outcome measures, with a focus on endocrine and metabolic tissues when information was available. Major conclusions: The net outcome of Atf6α on cell survival and cell death depends on cell type and growth conditions, the presence and degree of ER stress, and the duration and intensity of Atf6α activation. It is unquestioned that Atf6α activity influences the cell fate decision between survival and death, although opposite directions of this outcome are reported in different contexts. Atf6α can also trigger cell cycle activity to expand tissue cell number through proliferation. Much work remains to be done to clarify the many gaps in understanding in this important emerging field.
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