Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress is an adaptive response to various stress conditions and plays emerging roles in cancer. Activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6), one of the three major ER stress transducers, has been shown to contribute to chemoresistance by altering cancer cell survival. Cancerous inhibitor of protein phosphatase 2A (CIP2A) is an oncogene, and its expression has been correlated with the prognosis of patients with cancer. In this study, we aimed to explore the relationship between ER stress-related ATF signaling and CIP2A. We found that CIP2A expression was positively correlated with ATF6 expression by analyzing publicly available RNA sequence data of patients with colorectal cancer (The Cancer Genome Atlas, TCGA). In addition, we demonstrated that tunicamycin-induced ER stress in vitro upregulated ATF6 and CIP2A. Mechanistically, we found that ATF6 directly bound to the CIP2A promoter and induced CIP2A gene expression, which contributed to colon cancer cell survival. Furthermore, knockdown of CIP2A reduced the viability of cells under ER stress. Most importantly, immunohistochemical analysis of a tissue microarray from a colon cancer patient cohort showed that higher expression levels of ATF6 and CIP2A were associated with a trend toward poor prognosis. Taken together, our results show that ER stress-related ATF6 upregulates CIP2A and contributes to the prognosis of colon cancer. Targeting CIP2A may disrupt ER stress-mediated colon cancer cell survival and thus improve the prognosis of patients with colon cancer.
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