The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) emanates context-dependent signals, thereby mediating cellular response to a variety of stresses. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms have been enigmatic. To better understand the signaling capacity of the ER, we focused on roles played by mitsugumin23 (MG23), a protein residing predominantly in this organelle. Overexpression of MG23 in human embryonic kidney 293T cells specifically enhanced apoptosis triggered by etoposide, a DNA-damaging anti-cancer drug. Conversely, genetic deletion of MG23 reduced susceptibility of thymocytes to DNA damage-induced apoptosis, which was demonstrated by whole-body irradiation experiments. In this setting, induction of the tumor-suppressor gene p53 was attenuated in MG23-knockout thymocytes as compared with their wild-type counterparts, consistent with the elevated radioresistance. It is therefore suggested that MG23 is an essential component of ER-generated lethal signals provoked upon DNA damage, specifying cell fate under pathophysiological conditions.
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