Retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) performs essential functions for ensuring retinal homeostasis and is a key site for pathogenic changes leading to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Compromised proteostasis in RPE results in ER stress and ER stress-dependent antioxidant, apoptosis and autophagic responses. ER stress induces the unfolded protein response (UPR) in which EIF2AK3, encoding the protein kinase RNA-like ER kinase (PERK), acts as a key regulator. Downregulated EIF2AK3 gene expression has recently been identified in AMD using human donor RPE, however the molecular mechanisms that integrate the various ER-mediated cellular pathways underpinning progressive RPE dysfunction in AMD have not been fully characterised. This study investigated the downstream effects of PERK downregulation in response to Brefeldin A (BFA)-induced ER stress in ARPE-19 cells. PERK downregulation resulted in increased ER stress and impaired apoptosis induction, antioxidant responses and autophagic flux. ARPE-19 cells were unable to efficiently induce autophagy following PERK downregulation and PERK presented a role in regulating the rate of autophagy induction. The findings support PERK downregulation as an integrative event facilitating dysregulation of RPE processes critical to cell survival known to contribute to AMD development and highlight PERK as a potential future therapeutic target for AMD.
|Early online date||3 Aug 2022|
|Publication status||Published - 3 Aug 2022|
- Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress
- Epithelial Cells/metabolism
- Oxidative Stress
- Retinal Pigments/metabolism
- eIF-2 Kinase/genetics