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Original article
PHLDA3 overexpression in hepatocytes by endoplasmic reticulum stress via IRE1–Xbp1s pathway expedites liver injury
  1. Chang Yeob Han1,
  2. Sang Woo Lim1,
  3. Ja Hyun Koo1,
  4. Won Kim2,
  5. Sang Geon Kim1
  1. 1College of Pharmacy and Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea
  2. 2Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul Metropolitan Government Seoul National University Boramae Medical Center, Seoul, Korea
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sang Geon Kim, College of Pharmacy, Seoul National University, Sillim-dong, Kwanak-gu, Seoul 151-742, South Korea; sgk{at}


Objective Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress is involved in liver injury, but molecular determinants are largely unknown. This study investigated the role of pleckstrin homology-like domain, family A, member-3 (PHLDA3), in hepatocyte death caused by ER stress and the regulatory basis.

Design Hepatic PHLDA3 expression was assessed in HCV patients with hepatitis and in several animal models with ER stress. Immunoblottings, PCR, reporter gene, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and mutation analyses were done to explore gene regulation. The functional effect of PHLDA3 on liver injury was validated using lentiviral delivery of shRNA.

Results PHLDA3 was overexpressed in relation to hepatocyte injury in patients with acute liver failure or liver cirrhosis or in toxicant-treated mice. In HCV patients with liver injury, PHLDA3 was upregulated in parallel with the induction of ER stress marker. Treatment of mice with tunicamycin (Tm) (an ER stress inducer) increased PHLDA3 expression in the liver. X box-binding protein-1 (Xbp1) was newly identified as a transcription factor responsible for PHLDA3 expression. Inositol-requiring enzyme 1 (IRE1) (an upstream regulator of Xbp1) was required for PHLDA3 induction by Tm, whereas other pathways (c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), protein kinase RNA-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) and activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6)) were not. PHLDA3 overexpression correlated with the severity of hepatocyte injury in animal or cell model of ER stress. In p53-deficient cells, ER stress inducers transactivated PHLDA3 with a decrease in cell viability. ER stress-induced hepatocyte death depended on serine/threonine protein kinase B (Akt) inhibition by PHLDA3. Lentiviral delivery of PHLDA3 shRNA to mice abrogated p-Akt inhibition in the liver by Tm, attenuating hepatocyte injury.

Conclusions ER stress in hepatocytes induces PHLDA3 via IRE1–Xbp1s pathway, which facilitates liver injury by inhibiting Akt.


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