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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Martin Schröder

C. Y. Liu, M. Schröder & R. J. Kaufman (2000). Ligand-independent dimerization activates the stress response kinases IRE1 and PERK in the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum. Journal of Biological Chemistry 275(32): 24881-24885.

Author(s) from Durham


IRE1 and PERK are type I transmembrane serine/threonine protein kinases that are activated by unfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to signal adaptive responses. IRE1 is present in all eukaryotic cells and signals the unfolded protein response through its kinase and endoribonuclease activities. PERK signals phosphorylation of a translation initiation factor to inhibit protein synthesis in higher eukaryotic cells but is absent in the Saccharomyces cerevisiae genome. The amino acid sequences of the amino-terminal ER luminal domains (NLDs) from IRE1 and PERK display limited homology and have diverged among species. In this study, we have demonstrated that the NLD of yeast Ire1p is required for signaling. However, the NLDs from human IRE1a and murine IRE1b and the Caenorhabditis elegans IRE1 and PERK function as replacements for the S. cerevisiae Ire1p-NLD to signal the unfolded protein response. Replacement of the Ire1p-NLD with a functional leucine zipper dimerization motif yielded a constitutively active kinase that surprisingly was further activated by ER stress. These results demonstrate that ER stress-induced dimerization of the NLD is sufficient for IRE1 and PERK activation and is conserved through evolution. We propose that ligand-independent activation of IRE1 and PERK permits homodimerization upon accumulation of unfolded proteins in the lumen of the ER.