Mild stress induces brain region-specific alterations of selective ER stress markers' mRNA expression in Wfs1-deficient mice

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In this work, the effect of mild stress (elevated plus maze test, EPM) on the expression of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress markers in different brain areas of wild type (WT) and Wfs1-deficient (Wfs1KO) mice was investigated. The following ER stress markers were studied: activating transcription factor 6α (Atf6α), protein kinase-like ER kinase (Perk), X-box binding protein 1 (Xbp1) and its spliced form (Xbp1s), 78-kilodalton glucose regulated protein (Grp78), 94-kilodalton glucose regulated protein (Grp94), C/EBP homologous protein (Chop). Wfs1KO and WT mice, not exposed to EPM, had similar patterns of ER stress markers in the studied brain areas. The exploratory activity of Wfs1KO mice in the EPM was inhibited compared to WT mice, probably reflecting increased anxiety in genetically modified mice. In response to the EPM, activation of inositol-requiring transmembrane kinase and endonuclease 1α (Ire1α) ER stress pathway was seen in both genotypes, but in different brain areas. Such a brain region-specific Ire1α activation was linked with dominant behavioural trends in these mice as more anxious, neophobic Wfs1KO mice had increased ER stress markers expression in the temporal lobe, the brain region related to anxiety, and more curious WT mice had ER stress markers increased in the ventral striatum which is related to the exploratory drive. The molecular mechanism triggering respective changes in ER stress markers in these brain regions is likely related to altered levels of monoamine neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine) in Wfs1KO mice.

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