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Curr Biol. 2001 Jul 24;11(14):1114-8.

Quality control in the endoplasmic reticulum: PDI mediates the ER retention of unassembled procollagen C-propeptides.

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School of Biological Sciences, 2.205 Stopford Building, University of Manchester, M13 9PT, Manchester, United Kingdom.


Quality control within the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is thought to be mediated by the interaction of a folding protein with one or several resident ER proteins [1]. Protein disulphide isomerase (PDI) is one such ER resident protein that has been previously shown to interact with proteins during their folding and assembly pathways [2, 3]. It has been assumed that, as a consequence of this interaction, unassembled proteins are retained within the ER. Here, we experimentally show that this is indeed the case. We have taken advantage of our previous finding that PDI interacts with procollagen chains early on in their assembly pathway [2] to address the role of this protein in directly retaining unassembled chains within the ER. Our experimental approach involved expressing individual C-propeptide domains from different procollagen chains in mammalian cells and determining the ability of these domains to interact with PDI and to be secreted. The C-propeptide from the proalpha2(I) chain was retained within the cell, where it formed a complex with PDI. Conversely, the C-propeptide from the proalpha1(III) chain did not form a complex with PDI and was secreted. Both domains were secreted, however, from a stable cell line expressing a secreted form of PDI lacking its ER retrieval signal. Hence, we have demonstrated directly that the intracellular retention of one substrate for ER quality control is due to an interaction with PDI.

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