Human CPA1 mutation causes digestive enzyme misfolding and chronic pancreatitis in mice

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Chronic pancreatitis is a progressive, relapsing inflammatory disorder of the pancreas, which often develops in the background of genetic susceptibility. Recently, loss-of-function mutations in CPA1, which encodes the digestive enzyme carboxypeptidase A1, were described in sporadic early onset cases and in hereditary pancreatitis. Mutationinduced misfolding of CPA1 and associated endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress was suggested as potential disease mechanism; however, in vivo evidence has been lacking. The objective of the present study was to create a mouse model that recapitulates features of CPA1-associated chronic pancreatitis.


We knocked-in the most frequently occurring p.N256K human CPA1 mutation to the mouse Cpa1 locus. Mutant mice were with respect to pancreas pathology and ER stress and C57BL/ and CPA1 null control mice.


In the CPA1 N256K mutant mice, we observed hallmarks of chronic pancreatitis that included progressive acinar cell atrophy, inflammatory cell infiltration, fibrosis and acinar-ductal metaplasia. In contrast, similarly to the C57BL/6N mice, the CPA1 null control strain exhibited no signs of pancreatic disease. Mutation p.N256K induced misfolding of mouse CPA1 and resulted in elevated expression of ER stress markers Hspa5 (BiP) and Ddit3 (CHOP) both in cell culture and mutant mice.


The results offer categorical evidence that CPA1 mutations elicit enzyme misfolding and cause chronic pancreatitis via an ER stress-related mechanism.

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