ER stress-induced cell death proceeds independently of the TRAIL-R2 signaling axis in pancreatic β cells
Cathrin Hagenlocher, Robin Siebert, Bruno Taschke, Senait Wieske, Angelika Hausser & Markus Rehm
Prolonged ER stress and the associated unfolded protein response (UPR) can trigger programmed cell death. Studies in cancer cell lines demonstrated that the intracellular accumulation of TRAIL receptor-2 (TRAIL-R2) and the subsequent activation of caspase-8 contribute significantly to apoptosis induction upon ER stress. While this might motivate therapeutic strategies that promote cancer cell death through ER stress-induced caspase-8 activation, it could also support the unwanted demise of non-cancer cells. Here, we therefore investigated if TRAIL-R2 dependent signaling towards apoptosis can be induced in pancreatic β cells, whose loss by prolonged ER stress is associated with the onset of diabetes. Interestingly, we found that elevated ER stress in these cells does not result in TRAIL-R2 transcriptional induction or elevated protein levels, and that the barely detectable expression of TRAIL-R2 is insufficient to allow TRAIL-induced apoptosis to proceed. Overall, this indicates that apoptotic cell death upon ER stress most likely proceeds independent of TRAIL-R2 in pancreatic β cells. Our findings therefore point to differences in ER stress response and death decision-making between cancer cells and pancreatic β cells and also have implications for future targeted treatment strategies that need to differentiate between ER stress susceptibility of cancer cells and pancreatic β cells.