Chemical research in toxicology

Polychlorinated biphenyl quinone induces endoplasmic reticulum stress, unfolded protein response, and calcium release.

PMID 25950987


Organisms are able to respond to environmental insult to maintain cellular homeostasis, which include the activation of a wide range of cellular adaptive responses with tightly controlled mechanisms. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is an organelle responsible for protein folding and calcium storage. ER stress leads to the accumulation of unfolded proteins in the ER lumen. To be against or respond to this effect, cells have a comprehensive signaling system, called unfolded protein response (UPR), to restore homeostasis and normal ER function or activate the cell death program. Therefore, it is critical to understand how environmental insult regulates the ingredients of ER stress and UPR signalings. Previously, we have demonstrated that polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) quinone caused oxidative stress, cytotoxicity, genotoxicity, and apoptosis in HepG2 cells. Here, we investigated the role of a PCB quinone, PCB29-pQ on ER stress, UPR, and calcium release. PCB29-pQ markedly increased the hallmark genes of ER stress, namely, glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78), GRP94, and C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP) on both protein and mRNA levels in HepG2 cells. We also confirmed PCB29-pQ induced ER morphological defects by using transmission electron microscopy. Moreover, PCB29-pQ induced intracellular calcium accumulation and calpain activity, which were significantly inhibited by the pretreatment of BAPTA-AM (Ca(2+) chelator). These results were correlated with the outcome that PCB29-pQ induces ER stress-related apoptosis through caspase family gene 12, while salubrinal and Z-ATAD-FMK (a specific inhibitor of caspase 12) partially ameliorated this effect, respectively. N-Acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC) scavenged ROS formation and consequently alleviated PCB29-pQ-induced expression of ER stress-related genes. In conclusion, our result demonstrated for the first time that PCB quinone leads to ROS-dependent induction of ER stress, and UPR and calcium release in HepG2 cells, and the evaluation of the perturbations of ER stress, UPR, and calcium signaling provide further information on the mechanisms of PCB-induced toxicity.