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J Biol Chem. 1992 Jun 25;267(18):12753-60.

Calcium is required for folding of newly made subunits of the asialoglycoprotein receptor within the endoplasmic reticulum.

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  • 1Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142.


By resolving immunoprecipitates on nonreducing sodium dodecyl sulfate gels, we have detected several disulfide-bonded intermediates in folding within the endoplasmic reticulum of newly made H1 subunits of the asialoglycoprotein receptor. H1 in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) can be partially unfolded by treatment of cells with dithiothreitol, but H1 in Golgi or post-Golgi organelles is resistant to such unfolding. This defines a late step in H1 folding that occurs just prior to exit from the ER. Depletion of calcium from the endoplasmic reticulum, either by treatment with A23187 or thapsigargin, has no effect on folding or secretion of newly made albumin, but totally blocks H1 maturation from the ER. No ER intermediates in H1 folding are formed in cells treated with A23187 or thapsigargin, indicating that at least an early step in H1 folding requires a high Ca2+ concentration in the ER lumen. As judged by cross-linking experiments, formation of H1 dimers and trimers occurs immediately after biosynthesis of the peptide chain, before monomer folding, and occurs normally in cells in which ER Ca2+ is reduced and where the monomer never folds properly. Calcium is essential for the asialoglycoprotein receptor to bind galactose, and our results suggest that Ca2+ is also essential for the receptor polypeptides to fold in the ER.

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