Sep15, a thioredoxin-like selenoprotein, is involved in the unfolded protein response and differentially regulated by adaptive and acute ER stresses

Biochemistry. 2009 Sep 8;48(35):8458-65. doi: 10.1021/bi900717p.


The accumulation of misfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) results in activation of signaling pathways collectively known as the unfolded protein response (UPR). The UPR promotes adaptation of cells to ER stress by transient inhibition of protein translation and transcriptional up-regulation of genes encoding chaperones, oxidoreductases, and ER-associated degradation components. However, it may also trigger apoptosis in response to persistent ER stress. Recently, a novel selenocysteine-containing oxidoreductase, Sep15, has been reported to reside in the ER lumen. It has been proposed that this oxidoreductase may assist oxidative folding and structural maturation of N-glycosylated proteins targeted by UDP-glucose:glycoprotein glucosyltransferase, a chaperone implicated in quality control in the ER that forms a 1:1 complex with Sep15. To address the role of Sep15 in protein folding, we analyzed changes in Sep15 expression in murine fibroblast NIH3T3 cells in response to tunicamycin, brefeldin A (brefA), thapsigargin, and DTT that lead to accumulation of unfolded proteins within the ER. We show that expression of this protein is transcriptionally up-regulated in response to adaptive UPR caused by tunicamycin and brefA, whereas acute ER stress caused by DTT and thapsigargin leads to rapid and specific degradation of Sep15 by proteasomes. However, Sep15 deficiency did not result in detectable ER stress, consistent with the idea that Sep15 assists in the maturation of a restricted group of N-glycosylated proteins and/or that its function may be compensated by other mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / drug effects
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / physiology
  • Mice
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Protein Folding*
  • Selenoproteins / chemistry*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stress, Physiological*


  • Selenof protein, mouse
  • Selenoproteins