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Cell Calcium. 2009 Sep;46(3):147-53. doi: 10.1016/j.ceca.2009.05.002. Epub 2009 Aug 25.

When worlds collide: IP(3) receptors and the ERAD pathway.

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Department of Pharmacology, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY 13210, USA.


While cell signaling devotees tend to think of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) as a Ca(2+) store, those who study protein synthesis tend to see it more as site for protein maturation, or even degradation when proteins do not fold properly. These two worldviews collide when inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP(3)) receptors are activated, since in addition to acting as release channels for stored ER Ca(2+), IP(3) receptors are rapidly destroyed via the ER-associated degradation (ERAD) pathway, a ubiquitination- and proteasome-dependent mechanism that clears the ER of aberrant proteins. Here we review recent studies showing that activated IP(3) receptors are ubiquitinated in an unexpectedly complex manner, and that a novel complex composed of the ER membrane proteins SPFH1 and SPFH2 (erlin 1 and 2) binds to IP(3) receptors immediately after they are activated and mediates their ERAD. Remarkably, it seems that the conformational changes that underpin channel opening make IP(3) receptors resemble aberrant proteins, which triggers their binding to the SPFH1/2 complex, their ubiquitination and extraction from the ER membrane and finally, their degradation by the proteasome. This degradation of activated IP(3) receptors by the ERAD pathway serves to reduce the sensitivity of ER Ca(2+) stores to IP(3) and may protect cells against deleterious effects of over-activation of Ca(2+) signaling pathways.

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