GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program


Program in Molecular Medicine

First Thesis Advisor

Silvia Corvera, M.D.


Protein Folding, Energy Metabolism, Adipocytes, White, Adipokines, Endocrine Cells


White adipose plays a major role in the regulation of whole body metabolism through the storage and hydrolysis of triglycerides and by secretion of adipokines. The function of endocrine cells is highly dependent on the unfolded protein response (UPR), a homeostatic signaling mechanism that balances the protein folding capacity of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) with the cell's secretory protein load. Here we demonstrate that the adipocyte UPR pathway is necessary for its secretory functions, and can thus play a crucial role in the control of whole body energy homeostasis. ER protein folding capacity is dependent both on the number of available chaperones as well as on their activity, which requires a sufficient ATP supply. In 3T3-L1 adipocytes, mitochondrial biogenesis occurred in parallel with induction of the UPR; therefore, we tested whether it was necessary for efficient ER function. Inhibition of mitochondrial ATP synthesis through depletion of Tfam, a mitochondrial transcription factor, or treatment with inhibitors of oxidative phosphorylation, demonstrate that ER function is sensitive to acute changes in adenine nucleotide levels. In addition, adenylate kinase 2 (AK2), which regulates mitochondrial adenine nucleotide interconversion, is markedly induced during adipocyte and B cell differentiation. AK2 depletion impairs induction of the UPR and secretion in both cell types. Interestingly, cytosolic adenylate kinase 1 (AK1) does not have the same effect upon UPR induction. We show that adenine nucleotides promote proper ER function and alterations in specific aspects of ATP synthesis can impair UPR signaling. Understanding the complex energetic regulation of the UPR may provide insight into the relationship between UPR and disease.



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