Mukaigasa, K., Tsujita, T., Nguyen, V.T., Li, L., Yagi, H., Fuse, Y., Nakajima-Takagi, Y., Kato, K., Yamamoto, M., Kobayashi, M. (2018) Nrf2 activation attenuates genetic endoplasmic reticulum stress induced by a mutation in the phosphomannomutase 2 gene in zebrafish. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 115(11):2758-2763.
Nrf2 plays critical roles in animals' defense against electrophiles and oxidative stress by orchestrating the induction of cytoprotective genes. We previously isolated the zebrafish mutant it768, which displays up-regulated expression of Nrf2 target genes in an uninduced state. In this paper, we determine that the gene responsible for it768 was the zebrafish homolog of phosphomannomutase 2 (Pmm2), which is a key enzyme in the initial steps of N-glycosylation, and its mutation in humans leads to PMM2-CDG (congenital disorders of glycosylation), the most frequent type of CDG. The pmm2it768 larvae exhibited mild defects in N-glycosylation, indicating that the pmm2it768 mutation is a hypomorph, as in human PMM2-CDG patients. A gene expression analysis showed that pmm2it768 larvae display up-regulation of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, suggesting that the activation of Nrf2 was induced by the ER stress. Indeed, the treatment with the ER stress-inducing compounds up-regulated the gstp1 expression in an Nrf2-dependent manner. Furthermore, the up-regulation of gstp1 by the pmm2 inactivation was diminished by knocking down or out double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase (PKR)-like ER kinase (PERK), one of the main ER stress sensors, suggesting that Nrf2 was activated in response to the ER stress via the PERK pathway. ER stress-induced activation of Nrf2 was reported previously, but the results have been controversial. Our present study clearly demonstrated that ER stress can indeed activate Nrf2 and this regulation is evolutionarily conserved among vertebrates. Moreover, ER stress induced in pmm2it768 mutants was ameliorated by the treatment of the Nrf2-activator sulforaphane, indicating that Nrf2 plays significant roles in the reduction of ER stress.