TM7SF3, a novel p53-regulated homeostatic factor, attenuates cellular stress and the subsequent induction of the unfolded protein response

Cell Death Differ. 2017 Jan;24(1):132-143. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2016.108. Epub 2016 Oct 14.


Earlier reported small interfering RNA (siRNA) high-throughput screens, identified seven-transmembrane superfamily member 3 (TM7SF3) as a novel inhibitor of pancreatic β-cell death. Here we show that TM7SF3 maintains protein homeostasis and promotes cell survival through attenuation of ER stress. Overexpression of TM7SF3 inhibits caspase 3/7 activation. In contrast, siRNA-mediated silencing of TM7SF3 accelerates ER stress and activation of the unfolded protein response (UPR). This involves inhibitory phosphorylation of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2α activity and increased expression of activating transcription factor-3 (ATF3), ATF4 and C/EBP homologous protein, followed by induction of apoptosis. This process is observed both in human pancreatic islets and in a number of cell lines. Some of the effects of TM7SF3 silencing are evident both under basal conditions, in otherwise untreated cells, as well as under different stress conditions induced by thapsigargin, tunicamycin or a mixture of pro-inflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-1 beta and interferon gamma). Notably, TM7SF3 is a downstream target of p53: activation of p53 by Nutlin increases TM7SF3 expression in a time-dependent manner, although silencing of p53 abrogates this effect. Furthermore, p53 is found in physical association with the TM7SF3 promoter. Interestingly, silencing of TM7SF3 promotes p53 activity, suggesting the existence of a negative-feedback loop, whereby p53 promotes expression of TM7SF3 that acts to restrict p53 activity. Our findings implicate TM7SF3 as a novel p53-regulated pro-survival homeostatic factor that attenuates the development of cellular stress and the subsequent induction of the UPR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activating Transcription Factor 3 / metabolism
  • Activating Transcription Factor 4 / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism
  • Caspase 7 / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress / drug effects
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Humans
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II / genetics
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II / metabolism
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Protein Binding
  • Thapsigargin / toxicity
  • Transcription Factor CHOP / metabolism
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*
  • Tunicamycin / toxicity
  • Unfolded Protein Response / drug effects
  • eIF-2 Kinase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • eIF-2 Kinase / metabolism


  • ATF3 protein, human
  • ATF4 protein, human
  • Activating Transcription Factor 3
  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Proteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • TM7SF3 protein, human
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Tunicamycin
  • Activating Transcription Factor 4
  • Transcription Factor CHOP
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Thapsigargin
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • eIF-2 Kinase
  • Caspase 3
  • Caspase 7