Staufen 1 amplifies proapoptotic activation of the unfolded protein response

Cell Death Differ. 2020 Oct;27(10):2942-2951. doi: 10.1038/s41418-020-0553-9. Epub 2020 May 15.


Staufen-1 (STAU1) is an RNA-binding protein that becomes highly overabundant in numerous neurodegenerative disease models, including those carrying mutations in presenilin1 (PSEN1), microtubule-associated protein tau (MAPT), huntingtin (HTT), TAR DNA-binding protein-43 gene (TARDBP), or C9orf72. We previously reported that elevations in STAU1 determine autophagy defects and its knockdown is protective in models of several neurodegenerative diseases. Additional functional consequences of STAU1 overabundance, however, have not been investigated. We studied the role of STAU1 in the chronic activation of the unfolded protein response (UPR), a common feature among neurodegenerative diseases and often directly associated with neuronal death. Here we report that STAU1 is a novel modulator of the UPR, and is required for apoptosis induced by activation of the PERK-CHOP pathway. STAU1 levels increased in response to multiple endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stressors, and exogenous expression of STAU1 was sufficient to cause apoptosis through the PERK-CHOP pathway of the UPR. Cortical neurons and skin fibroblasts derived from Stau1-/- mice showed reduced UPR and apoptosis when challenged with thapsigargin. In fibroblasts from individuals with SCA2 or with ALS-causing TDP-43 and C9ORF72 mutations, we found highly increased STAU1 and CHOP levels in basal conditions, and STAU1 knockdown restored CHOP levels to normal. Taken together, these results show that STAU1 overabundance reduces cellular resistance to ER stress and precipitates apoptosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress*
  • Fibroblasts
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism*
  • Neurons
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Unfolded Protein Response


  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Stau1 protein, mouse