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Life Sci. 2003 Dec 5;74(2-3):199-205.

ER signaling in unfolded protein response.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Hokkaido University, 060-0812, Sapporo, Japan.


Abnormally folded proteins are susceptible to aggregation and accumulation in cells, ultimately leading to cell death. To protect cells against such dangers, expression of various genes including molecular chaperones can be induced and ER-associated protein degradation (ERAD) activated in response to the accumulation of unfolded protein in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). This is known as the unfolded protein response (UPR). ERAD requires retrograde transport of unfolded proteins from the ER back to the cytosol via the translocon for degradation by the ubiquitin-proteasome system. Hrd1p is a UPR-induced ER membrane protein that acts as a ubiquitin ligase (E3) in the ERAD system. Hrd3p interacts with and stabilizes Hrd1p. We have isolated and identified human homologs (HRD1 and SEL1/HRD3) of Saccharomyces cerevisiae Hrd1p and Hrd3p. Human HRD1 and SEL1 were up-regulated in response to ER stress and overexpression of human IRE1 and ATF6, which are ER stress-sensor molecules in the ER. HEK293T cells overexpressing HRD1 showed resistance to ER stress-induced cell death. These results suggest that HRD1 and SEL1 are up-regulated by the UPR and contribute to protection against the ER stress-induced cell death by degrading unfolded proteins accumulated in the ER.

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