American journal of physiology. Gastrointestinal and liver physiology

RCAD/BiP pathway is necessary for the proper synthesis of digestive enzymes and secretory function of the exocrine pancreas.

PMID 28104585


Alcoholism causes an imbalance of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) homeostasis in pancreatic acini. In those cells, the ER is involved in the synthesis and folding of pancreatic enzymes. Ubiquitin-fold modifier 1 (Ufm1) is part of a novel ubiquitin-like modification system involved in maintaining ER homeostasis. Among the components of the Ufm1 system, Regulator of C53 and DDRGK1 (RCAD) has recently been identified as a Ufm1-specific E3 ligase that promotes ufmylation of DDRGK1, an RCAD-interacting protein. We determined the importance of RCAD in the proper synthesis and secretion of pancreatic enzymes using mice with genetically deleted RCAD. The pancreas of RCAD-deficient mice was of normal size and histology. Using quantitative PCR and Western blotting, we found that amylase was upregulated in pancreas organs from RCAD-knockout (KO) mice. Constitutive amylase secretion was much higher in isolated pancreatic acini from RCAD KO mice, whereas CCK-stimulated amylase secretion was disturbed. RCAD deficiency caused a downregulation in expression of ER chaperone BiP, which affected ER homeostasis and activated both apoptosis and trypsin. We also found that both RCAD and DDRGK1 transcript levels were upregulated in pancreatic acini from alcohol-preferring rats. Elevated expression of RCAD and DDRGK1 was associated with increased ER stress and UPR activation. Because of the lack of BiP expression, caspase 3 and trypsin activation we enhanced in RCAD-deficient pancreatic acini upon treatment with ethanol and CCK. In conclusion, the RCAD/BiP pathway is required for proper synthesis and secretion of pancreatic enzymes. In alcoholism, increased levels of components of the Ufm1 system could prevent the deleterious effects of alcohol in the pancreas by regulating BiP levels.