Altered regulation of ER stress response has been implicated in a variety of human diseases, such as cancer and metabolic diseases. Excessive ER function contributes to malignant phenotypes, such as chemoresistance and metastasis. Here we report that the tumor suppressor p53 regulates ER function in response to stress. We found that loss of p53 function activates the IRE1α/XBP1 pathway to enhance protein folding and secretion through upregulation of IRE1α and subsequent activation of its target XBP1. We also show that wild-type p53 interacts with synoviolin (SYVN1)/HRD1/ DER3, a transmembrane E3 ubiquitin ligase localized to ER during ER stress and removes unfolded proteins by reversing transport to the cytosol from the ER, and its interaction stimulates IRE1α degradation. Moreover, IRE1α inhibitor suppressed protein secretion, induced cell death in p53-deficient cells, and strongly suppressed the formation of tumors by p53-deficient human tumor cells in vivo compared with those that expressed wild-type p53. Therefore, our data imply that the IRE1α/XBP1 pathway serves as a target for therapy of chemoresistant tumors that express mutant p53.
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