Activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6) is an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-regulated transcription factor that induces expression of major molecular chaperones in the ER. We recently reported that ATF6β, a subtype of ATF6, promoted survival of hippocampal neurons exposed to ER stress and excitotoxicity, at least in part by inducing expression of calreticulin, an ER molecular chaperone with high Ca2+-binding capacity. In the present study, we demonstrate that ATF6β deficiency in mice also decreases calreticulin expression and increases expression of glucose-regulated protein 78, another ER molecular chaperone, in emotional brain regions such as the prefrontal cortex (PFC), hypothalamus, hippocampus, and amygdala. Comprehensive behavioral analyses revealed that Atf6b-/- mice exhibit anxiety-like behavior in the light/dark transition test and hyperactivity in the forced swim test. Consistent with these results, PFC and hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) expression was increased in Atf6b-/- mice, as was circulating corticosterone. Moreover, CRH receptor 1 antagonism alleviated anxiety-like behavior in Atf6b-/- mice. These findings suggest that ATF6β deficiency produces anxiety-like behavior and hyperactivity via a CRH receptor 1-dependent mechanism. ATF6β could play a role in psychiatric conditions in the emotional centers of the brain.
Keywords: Activating transcription factor 6β; Anxiety-like behavior; Endoplasmic reticulum stress; Hyperactivity; Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.
© 2023. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.
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