The epithelial cells of the gastrointestinal tract are exposed to toxins and infectious agents that can adversely affect protein folding in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and cause ER stress. The IRE1 genes are implicated in sensing and responding to ER stress signals. We found that epithelial cells of the gastrointestinal tract express IRE1β, a specific isoform of IRE1. BiP protein, a marker of ER stress, was elevated in the colonic mucosa of IRE1β-/- mice, and, when exposed to dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) to induce inflammatory bowel disease, mutant mice developed colitis 3-5 days earlier than did wild-type or IRE1β+/- mice. The inflammation marker ICAM-1 was also expressed earlier in the colonic mucosa of DSS-treated IRE1β-/- mice, indicating that the mutation had its impact early in the inflammatory, process, before the onset of mucosal ulceration. These findings are consistent with a model whereby perturbations in ER function, which are normally mitigated by the activity of IRE1β, participate in the development of colitis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas