PloS one

Icariin induces synoviolin expression through NFE2L1 to protect neurons from ER stress-induced apoptosis.

PMID 25806530


By suppressing neuronal apoptosis, Icariin is a potential therapeutic drug for neuronal degenerative diseases. The molecular mechanisms of Icariin anti-apoptotic functions are still largely unclear. In this report, we found that Icariin induces the expression of Synoviolin, an endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-anchoring E3 ubiquitin ligase that functions as a suppressor of ER stress-induced apoptosis. The nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 1 (NFE2L1) is responsible for Icariin-mediated Synoviolin gene expression. Mutation of the NFE2L1-binding sites in a distal region of the Synoviolin promoter abolished Icariin-induced Synoviolin promoter activity, and knockdown of NFE2L1 expression prevented Icariin-stimulated Synoviolin expression. More importantly, Icariin protected ER stress-induced apoptosis of PC12 cells in a Synoviolin-dependent manner. Therefore, our study reveals Icariin-induced Synoviolin expression through NFE2L1 as a previously unappreciated molecular mechanism underlying the neuronal protective function of Icariin.