Anticipatory UPR Activation: A Protective Pathway and Target in Cancer

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2016 Oct;27(10):731-741. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2016.06.002. Epub 2016 Jun 25.


The endoplasmic reticulum (EnR) stress sensor, the unfolded protein response (UPR), plays a key role in regulating intracellular protein homeostasis. The extensively studied reactive mode of UPR activation is characterized by unfolded protein, or other EnR stress, triggering UPR activation. Here we focus on the emerging anticipatory mode of UPR activation in which mitogenic steroid and peptide hormones and other effectors preactivate the UPR and anticipate a future need for increased protein folding capacity. Mild UPR activation in breast cancer can be protective and contributes to antiestrogen resistance. Hyperactivation of the anticipatory UPR pathway in cancer cells with a small molecule converts it from cytoprotective to cytotoxic, highlighting its potential as a therapeutic target in estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer.

Keywords: BHPI; cancer; estrogen; unfolded protein response.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress / genetics
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Unfolded Protein Response / genetics
  • Unfolded Protein Response / physiology*