ATF3 induces RAB7 to govern autodegradation in paligenosis, a conserved cell plasticity program

Megan D. Radyk, Lillian B. Spatz, Bianca L. Peña, Jeffrey W. Brown, Joseph Burclaff, Charles J. Cho, Yan Kefalov, Chien Cheng Shih, James A.J. Fitzpatrick, Jason C. Mills

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Differentiated cells across multiple species and organs can re-enter the cell cycle to aid in injury-induced tissue regeneration by a cellular program called paligenosis. Here, we show that activating transcription factor 3 (ATF3) is induced early during paligenosis in multiple cellular contexts, transcriptionally activating the lysosomal trafficking gene Rab7b. ATF3 and RAB7B are upregulated in gastric and pancreatic digestive-enzyme-secreting cells at the onset of paligenosis Stage 1, when cells massively induce autophagic and lysosomal machinery to dismantle differentiated cell morphological features. Their expression later ebbs before cells enter mitosis during Stage 3. Atf3–/– mice fail to induce RAB7-positive autophagic and lysosomal vesicles, eventually causing increased death of cells en route to Stage 3. Finally, we observe that ATF3 is expressed in human gastric metaplasia and during paligenotic injury across multiple other organs and species. Thus, our findings indicate ATF3 is an evolutionarily conserved gene orchestrating the early paligenotic autodegradative events that must occur before cells are poised to proliferate and contribute to tissue repair.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere51806
JournalEMBO Reports
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 6 2021


  • BHLHA15
  • RAB5
  • acinar-ductal metaplasia
  • plasticity
  • spasmolytic polypeptide-expressing metaplasia


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