Many studies have confirmed that high myopia is related to the high prevalence of cataracts, which results from apoptosis of lens epithelial cells (LECs) due to endoplasmic reticulum stress. Krüppel-like factor 6 (KLF6) is a tumor suppressor that is involved in the regulation of cell proliferation and apoptosis.
In this study, our purpose was to find the relationship between KLF6-induced apoptosis in LECs and ATF4 (activating transcription factor 4)-ATF3 (activating transcription factor 3)-CHOP (C/EBP homologous protein) signaling pathway.
KLF6, ATF4, ATF3, and CHOP were ectopically expressed using cDNAs subcloned into the pCDNA3.1+ vector. ATF4, ATF3, and CHOP knockdown were performed by small interfering RNA (siRNA). Expression of relative gene was tested using QT-PCR and western-blot. Then, accompanied by UVB stimulation, cell viability was measured by CCK-8 assay; The cell damage was examined by live & dead staining; The apoptotic markers Bax and Bcl-2 were detected by immunoblotting; Quantitative apoptotic levels were measured with the Apoptosis Detection Kit; The expression level of reactive oxygen-free radical (ROS) was analyzed by DCFH-DA` probe.
Ectopically expressed ATF4, ATF3, and CHOP-induced apoptosis in cells, whereas ATF4, ATF3, and CHOP knockdown by small interfering RNA (siRNA) blocked KLF6-induced apoptosis. In addition, we determined that ATF4 regulates ATF3 and CHOP expression and that ATF3 silencing reduces CHOP upregulation without changing ATF4 levels; however, ATF4 and ATF3 expression was unaffected by blockade of CHOP, suggesting that KLF6 triggers endoplasmic reticulum stress in LECs by mediating the ATF4-ATF3/CHOP axis. Besides, KLF6 overexpression significantly induced LEC apoptosis under UV radiation, as demonstrated by the elevated Bax/Bcl-2 ratio.