Serum and glucocorticoid-regulated kinase 1 (SGK1) encodes a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-dependent serine/threonine kinase that is rapidly induced in response to cellular stressors and is an important cell survival signal. Previous studies have suggested that an increase in cytoplasmic Ca(2+) concentration ([Ca(2+)]c) is required for increased SGK1 expression, but the subcellular source of Ca(2+) regulating SGK1 transcription remains uncertain. Activation of endoplasmic reticulum stress (ERS) with thapsigargin (TG) increased SGK1 mRNA and protein expression in MDA-MB-231 cells. Intracellular Ca(2+) imaging revealed that store-operated Ca(2+) entry played a prominent role in SGK1 induction by TG. Neither ERS nor release of Ca(2+) from the ER was sufficient to activate SGK1. Prolonged elevation of intracellular Ca(2+) levels, however, triggered cell death with a much greater proportion of the cells undergoing necrosis rather than apoptosis. A relative increase in the percentage of cells undergoing necrosis was observed in cells expressing a short hairpin RNA targeted to the SGK1 gene. Necrotic cell death evoked by cytoplasmic Ca(2+) overloading was associated with persistent hyperpolarization of the inner mitochondrial membrane and a modest increase in calpain activation, but did not involve detectable caspase 3 or caspase 7 activation. The effects of cytoplasmic Ca(2+) overloading on mitochondrial membrane potential were significantly reduced in cells expressing SGK1 compared with SGK1-depleted cells. Our findings indicate that store-operated Ca(2+) entry regulates SGK1 expression in epithelial cells and suggest that SGK1-dependent cytoprotective signaling involves effects on maintaining mitochondrial function.
Keywords: Apoptosis; Calcium Signaling; Cytoprotection; Mitochondrial Apoptosis; Mitochondrial Membrane Potential; Necrosis (Necrotic Death); SGK1; Signal Transduction.