The most prevalent pathogenic mutations in the (Δ) and /pendrin (), which cause cystic fibrosis and congenital hearing loss, respectively, evoke protein misfolding and subsequent defects in their cell surface trafficking. Here, we report that activation of the IRE1α kinase pathway can rescue the cell surface expression of ΔF508-CFTR and p.H723R-pendrin through a Golgi-independent unconventional protein secretion (UPS) route. In mammalian cells, inhibition of IRE1α kinase, but not inhibition of IRE1α endonuclease and the downstream effector XBP1, inhibited CFTR UPS. Treatment with the IRE1α kinase activator, (E)-2-(2-chlorostyryl)-3,5,6-trimethyl-pyrazine (CSTMP), rescued cell surface expression and functional activity of ΔF508-CFTR and p.H723R-pendrin. Treatment with a nontoxic dose of CSTMP to ΔF508-CFTR mice restored CFTR surface expression and CFTR-mediated anion transport in the mouse colon. These findings suggest that UPS activation via IRE1α kinase is a strategy to treat diseases caused by defective cell surface trafficking of membrane proteins, including ΔF508-CFTR and p.H723R-pendrin.
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