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The unfolded protein response regulator ATF6 promotes mesodermal differentiation

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Sci. Signal.  13 Feb 2018:
Vol. 11, Issue 517, eaan5785
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aan5785
  • Fig. 1 Small-molecule AA147 activates ATF6 and influences differentiation of stem cells.

    (A) Chemical structures of ATF6 activator AA147 and inactive analog RP22. (B) Human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293T cells were transfected with FLAG-tagged ATF6 and cultured with dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), RP22, and AA147 (10 μM) for 24 hours or dithiothreitol (DTT) (2 mM) for 30 min, and lysates were immunoblotted for FLAG-tagged ATF6. Arrow identifies cleaved FLAG-tagged ATF6(N). (C) Stem cells were cultured with AA147 and RP22 (15 μM), DMSO, or thapsigargin (Tg; 500 nM) for 4 hours, and lysates were immunoblotted for endogenous ATF6, GRP78/BiP, or cleaved poly[adenosine diphosphate (ADP)–ribose] polymerase (clPARP). Arrow indicates position of ATF6(N). DMSO, drug solvent control; Tg, positive control for ATF6 activation; GAPDH (glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase), loading control. (D) Volcano plot representation of RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) data of AA147-treated human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) relative to RP22-treated hESCs at day 13 of differentiation. Blue circles represent ATF6 transcriptional target genes that regulate endoplasmic reticulum associated degradation (ERAD), endoplasmic reticulum (ER) homeostasis, and proteostasis (36). FDR, false discovery rate. (E) mRNA levels of select ATF6 transcriptional targets, HERPUD1, EDEM1, GRP78/BiP, and SEL1L, measured by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). Data are means ± SD from n = 3 experiments; ***P < 0.005, Student’s two-tailed t test. (F) Tissue correlation analysis of RNA-seq expression profile of AA147- and RP22-treated hESCs compared with RNA-seq profiles of stem cell line HUES9 and various human cell lines of stem (red) and mesoendodermal (green) origins.

  • Fig. 2 ATF6 activation by AA147 suppresses pluripotency and induces mesodermal gene expression in stem cells.

    (A to D) hESCs were differentiated for 13 days in the presence of 10 μM AA147 or 10 μM RP22. RNA samples were collected for RNA-seq or quantitative PCR analysis. In all cases, AA147- and RP22-treated samples were quantified relative to day 1, and AA147 levels are shown normalized to RP22 at day 13 thereafter. Volcano plots (left) and select qRT-PCR measurements (right) are shown for pluripotency genes (A), mesodermal lineage genes (B), endodermal lineage genes (C), and ectodermal lineage genes (D). The top five most changed genes in each plot are listed. Data are means ± SD for n = 3 experiments; *P < 0.05 and ***P < 0.005, Student’s two-tailed t test.

  • Fig. 3 ATF6(N) induces and Ceapin-A7 opposes mesodermal gene expression in stem cells.

    (A and B) qRT-PCR analysis of the expression of ATF6 transcriptional target gene mRNAs (A) or mesodermal marker mRNAs (B) in hESCs expressing ATF6(N) relative to control [green fluorescent protein (GFP)–transduced] cells. Lysates were collected 72 hours after vector transduction. (C and D) qRT-PCR analysis of the expression of ATF6 transcriptional target gene mRNAs (C) or mesodermal marker mRNAs (D) in hESCs treated with AA147 (15 μM), RP22 (15 μM), or Ceapin-A7 (9 μM) relative to controls [those treated with DMSO (C) or RP22 ± Ceapin-A7 (D)]. Lysates were collected ~4 hours after treatment. Data in (A), (C), and (D) are means ± SD for n = 3 (A) and n = 5 (C and D) experiments. *P < 0.05 and ***P < 0.005, Student’s two-tailed t test.

  • Fig. 4 ATF6-mutant stem cells retain pluripotency and show impaired mesodermal differentiation.

    (A) Representative images of human fibroblasts carrying the ATF6[R324C] mutation and the corresponding iPSC line. Scale bars, 10 μm. (B) RT-PCR of pluripotency markers SOX2, NANOG, and POU5F1 in a representative human ATF6 fibroblast line and reprogrammed human ATF6 iPSC line. (C) Lysates from heterozygous (ATF6R324C/+) and homozygous (ATF6R324C/R324C) ATF6 induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) at the indicated days after differentiation were immunoblotted for full-length ATF6, ATF6(N) (“*”), and GRP78/BiP. Heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) functioned as a loading control. D1, day 1; D13, day 13. (D) ATF6R324C/+ and ATF6R324C/R324C iPSCs were differentiated with AA147 or its analog RP22 for 13 days (10 μM each). GRP78/BiP mRNA levels were measured by qRT-PCR. Changes in mRNA expression at day 13 were analyzed relative to day 1 of the respective genotype. (E) mRNA levels of pluripotency markers POU5F1, SOX2, and NANOG were measured by qRT-PCR after 13 days of differentiation. (F) Expression of an ectodermal lineage marker (PAX6), an endodermal lineage marker (FOXA2), and a mesodermal lineage marker (ACTA2), measured by qRT-PCR after 13 days of differentiation. Amount of mRNA at day 13 was analyzed relative to that at day 1 of the respective genotype. Data in (D) to (F) are means ± SD for n = 8 (E and F) and n = 3 (D) experiments. *P < 0.05 and ***P < 0.005, Student’s two-tailed t test.

  • Fig. 5 ATF6 promotes ER expansion as stem cells differentiate.

    (A and B) Confocal immunofluorescence analysis of ER luminal protein, protein disulfide isomerase (PDI) (red), was performed on hESCs at early (A, day 3) and late (B, day 15) stages of differentiation. DAPI (4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole) staining (blue) identifies the nuclei. Scale bars, 10 μm. (C and D) Ultrastructural images were collected from hESCs at early (C, day 3) and late (D, day 15) stages of differentiation. Two magnifications are presented [scale bars, 1 μm (×2500) and 0.5 μm (×5000)]. Arrowheads identify rough ER in early stages of differentiation. N indicates nuclei. (E) Immunoblotting for ER proteins PDI, GRP78/BiP, CRT, CNX, and SEC61 in hESC lysates at the indicated day after differentiation. GAPDH blot is a loading control. (F) Immunoblotting for ATF6, cleaved ATF6(N) (“*”), GRP78/BiP, and usXBP1 protein abundance in lysates from hESCs at indicated time point after differentiation. Blotting of lysates from HEK293T cells treated with tunicamycin (Tm; 5 μg/ml) was a positive control. GAPDH blot is a loading control. (G) Immunoblotting for GRP78/BiP, PDI, and CNX protein abundance in hESCs transduced with adenovirus (AD)–expressing ATF6(N) or GFP. Lysates were collected 72 hours after AD transduction. HSP90 blot is a loading control. (H) qRT-PCR analysis of the expression of pluripotency markers POU5F1, NANOG, and SOX2 in hESCs at days 1 and 21 of differentiation. Data in (D) to (F) are means ± SD for n = 8 experiments; ***P < 0.005, Student’s two-tailed t test.

  • Fig. 6 AA147-treated stem cells preferentially generate vascular endothelial cells.

    (A) Bright-field images of polymorphic hESC cultures after 21 days of undirected differentiation in the presence of RP22 (10 μM). Scale bars, 5 μm. (B) A bright-field image shows monomorphic hESC cultures after 13 days of differentiation in the presence of AA147 (10 μM). Scale bars, 10 μm. (C) Volcano plot showing endothelia markers in AA147-treated cells relative to RP22-treated cells; the top five most changed genes are listed. Quantitative mRNA levels of endothelial cell markers PROCR, ITGB2, and CD151 are shown. Data are shown by quantifying AA147- and RP22-treated samples relative to day 1 and then presenting AA147 relative to RP22 at day 13. (D) Schematic representation of differentiation protocol for the generation of endothelial cells for subsequent vascular tubule formation. (E and F) Cell migration and localization of endothelial cells (labeled with green CellTracker dye) during in vitro vascular tubule formation. Endothelial tubule formations by primary human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) are shown as a positive control. Arrows identify endothelial cells undergoing nascent tabulation. (F) Length of tubules, quantified by ImageJ, in AA147- and RP22-treated endothelial cells at P0. Data are means ± SD for n = 4 (C) and n = 3 (F) experiments. *P < 0.05 and ***P < 0.005, Student’s two-tailed t test.

Supplementary Materials

  • www.sciencesignaling.org/cgi/content/full/11/517/eaan5785/DC1

    Fig. S1. AA147 significantly increases ATF6(N) and GRP78/BiP protein abundance.

    Fig. S2. AA147 treatment does not affect Wnt, DNA regulation, mRNA surveillance, Fanconi anemia, and cell death signaling pathways in stem cells.

    Fig. S3. AA147 treatment does not induce mesodermal marker genes in HEK293 cells.

    Table S1. Summary of genes used in volcano plots.

    Table S2. Raw RNA-seq data.

    Table S3. Comparison study using other cell types and tissues.

    Table S4. RNA-seq data set in our transcriptome database.

  • Supplementary Materials for:

    The unfolded protein response regulator ATF6 promotes mesodermal differentiation

    Heike Kroeger, Neil Grimsey, Ryan Paxman, Wei-Chieh Chiang, Lars Plate, Ying Jones, Peter X. Shaw, JoAnn Trejo, Stephen H. Tsang, Evan Powers, Jeffery W. Kelly, R. Luke Wiseman, Jonathan H. Lin*

    *Corresponding author. Email: jlin{at}ucsd.edu

    This PDF file includes:

    • Fig. S1. AA147 significantly increases ATF6(N) and GRP78/BiP protein abundance.
    • Fig. S2. AA147 treatment does not affect Wnt, DNA regulation, mRNA surveillance, Fanconi anemia, and cell death signaling pathways in stem cells.
    • Fig. S3. AA147 treatment does not induce mesodermal marker genes in HEK293 cells.
    • Legends for tables S1 to S3
    • Table S4. RNA-seq data set in our transcriptome database.

    [Download PDF]

    Technical Details

    Format: Adobe Acrobat PDF

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    Other Supplementary Material for this manuscript includes the following:

    • Table S1 (Microsoft Excel format). Summary of genes used in volcano plots.
    • Table S2 (Microsoft Excel format). Raw RNA-seq data.
    • Table S3 (Microsoft Excel format). Comparison study using other cell types and tissues.

    Citation: H. Kroeger, N. Grimsey, R. Paxman, W.-C. Chiang, L. Plate, Y. Jones, P. X. Shaw, J. Trejo, S. H. Tsang, E. Powers, J. W. Kelly, R. L. Wiseman, J. H. Lin, The unfolded protein response regulator ATF6 promotes mesodermal differentiation. Sci. Signal. 11, eaan5785 (2018).

    © 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science

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