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Occludin protects secretory cells from ER stress by facilitating SNARE-dependent apical protein exocytosis [Cell Biology]
PNAS ( IF 9.580 ) Pub Date : 2020-02-12 , DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1909731117
Tao Zhou, Yunzhe Lu, Chongshen Xu, Rui Wang, Liye Zhang, Pengfei Lu

Tight junctions (TJs) are fundamental features of both epithelium and endothelium and are indispensable for vertebrate organ formation and homeostasis. However, mice lacking Occludin (Ocln) develop relatively normally to term. Here we show that Ocln is essential for mammary gland physiology, as mutant mice fail to produce milk. Surprisingly, Ocln null mammary glands showed intact TJ function and normal epithelial morphogenesis, cell differentiation, and tissue polarity, suggesting that Ocln is not required for these processes. Using single-cell transcriptomics, we identified milk-producing cells (MPCs) and found they were progressively more prone to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress as protein production increased exponentially during late pregnancy and lactation. Importantly, Ocln loss in MPCs resulted in greatly heightened ER stress; this in turn led to increased apoptosis and acute shutdown of protein expression, ultimately leading to lactation failure in the mutant mice. We show that the increased ER stress was caused by a secretory failure of milk proteins in Ocln null cells. Consistent with an essential role in protein secretion, Occludin was seen to reside on secretory vesicles and to be bound to SNARE proteins. Taken together, our results demonstrate that Ocln protects MPCs from ER stress by facilitating SNARE-dependent protein secretion and raise the possibility that other TJ components may participate in functions similar to Ocln.
更新日期:2020-02-13

 

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