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cAMP-Independent Activation of the Unfolded Protein Response by Cholera Toxin

Banerjee, T;Grabon, A;Taylor, M;Teter, K;

Cholera toxin (CT) is an AB5 protein toxin that activates the stimulatory alpha subunit of the heterotrimeric G protein (Gsα) through ADP-ribosylation. Activation of Gsα produces a cytopathic effect by stimulating adenylate cyclase and the production of cAMP. To reach its cytosolic Gsα target, CT binds to the plasma membrane of a host cell and travels by vesicle carriers to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). The catalytic CTA1 subunit then exploits the quality control mechanism of ER-associated degradation to move from the ER to the cytosol. ER-associated degradation is functionally linked to another quality control system, the unfolded protein response (UPR). However, the role of the UPR in cholera intoxication is unclear. We report here that CT triggers the UPR after 4 h of toxin exposure. A functional toxin was required to induce the UPR, but, surprisingly, activation of the adenylate cyclase signaling pathway was not sufficient to trigger the process. Toxin-induced activation of the UPR coincided with increased toxin accumulation in the cytosol. Chemical activation of the heterotrimeric G protein or the UPR also enhanced the onset of CTA1 delivery to the cytosol, thus producing a toxin-sensitive phenotype. These results indicate there is a cAMP-independent response to CT that activates the UPR and thereby enhances the efficiency of intoxication.