Palmitate induces cardiomyocyte death via inositol requiring enzyme-1 (IRE1)-mediated signaling independent of X-box binding protein 1 (XBP1)

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2020 May 21;526(1):122-127. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2020.03.027. Epub 2020 Mar 19.


Overloading of the saturated fatty acid (SFA) palmitate induces cardiomyocyte death. The purpose of this study is to elucidate signaling pathways contributing to palmitate-induced cardiomyocyte death. Palmitate-induced cardiomyocyte death was induced in Toll-like receptor 2/4 double-knockdown cardiomyocytes to a similar extent as wild-type cardiomyocytes, while cardiomyocyte death was canceled out by triacsin C, a long-chain acyl-CoA synthetase inhibitor. These results indicated that palmitate induced cytotoxicity after entry and conversion into palmitoyl-CoA. Palmitoyl-CoA is not only degraded by mitochondrial oxidation but also taken up as a component of membrane phospholipids. Palmitate overloading causes cardiomyocyte membrane fatty acid (FA) saturation, which is associated with the activation of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) unfolded protein response (UPR) signaling. We focused on the ER UPR signaling as a possible mechanism of cell death. Palmitate loading activates the UPR signal via membrane FA saturation, but not via unfolded protein overload in the ER since the chemical chaperone 4-phenylbutyrate failed to suppress palmitate-induced ER UPR. The mammalian UPR relies on three ER stress sensors named inositol requiring enzyme-1 (IRE1), PKR-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK), and activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6). Palmitate loading activated only IRE1 and PERK. Knockdown of PERK did not affect palmitate-induced cardiomyocyte death, while knockdown of IRE1 suppressed palmitate-induced cardiomyocyte death. However, knockdown of X-box binding protein 1 (XBP1), the downstream effector of IRE1, did not affect palmitate-induced cardiomyocyte death. These results were validated by pharmacological inhibitor experiments. In conclusion, we identified that palmitate-induced cardiomyocyte death was triggered by IRE1-mediated signaling independent of XBP1.

Keywords: Endoplasmic reticulum stress; Membrane fatty acid composition; Monounsaturated fatty acid; Saturated fatty acid.