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J Biol Chem. 1997 Jan 31;272(5):3057-63.

Multiple molecular chaperones complex with misfolded large oligomeric glycoproteins in the endoplasmic reticulum.

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Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Thyroglobulin (Tg), the major protein secreted by thyroid epithelial cells and precursor of thyroid hormones, is a large dimeric glycoprotein with multiple disulfide bonds. The folding and assembly of this complex molecule begins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and is likely to involve a variety of reactions catalyzed by molecular chaperones (Kuznetsov, G., Chen, L. B., and Nigam, S. K. (1994) J. Biol. Chem. 269, 22990-22995). By coimmunoprecipitation in rat thyroid cells, we were able to demonstrate that BiP, grp94, ERp72, and grp170, four proteins believed to function as specific molecular chaperones, complex with Tg during its maturation. The same complex of the four putative chaperones with Tg was observed in cells treated with tunicamycin, indicating that these four ER chaperones stably associate with Tg when it is misfolded/misassembled due to inhibition of its glycosylation. BiP, grp94, and ERp72 were also found to associate with Tg in cells in which misfolding was induced by perturbing ER calcium stores. To determine if the assembly of a complex between the four chaperones and Tg under conditions of misglycosylation was unique to the maturation of this particular secretory protein or a more general phenomenon, adenovirus-transformed rat thyroid cells that do not synthesize Tg were analyzed. In these transformed cells, the only protein these same four chaperones were found to complex with was a protein of approximately 200 kDa. This protein was subsequently identified as thrombospondin, which, like Tg, is a large oligomeric secreted glycoprotein with multiple disulfide bonds. We therefore propose that these ER chaperones complex together with a variety of large oligomeric secretory glycoproteins as they fold and assemble in the ER.

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