Membrane proteins make up ~30% of the proteome. During the early stages of maturation, this class of proteins can experience localized misfolding in distinct cellular compartments, such as the cytoplasm, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) lumen and ER membrane. ER quality control (ERQC) mechanisms monitor folding and determine whether a membrane protein is appropriately folded or is misfolded and warrants degradation. ERQC plays crucial roles in human diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, in which deletion of a single amino acid (F508) results in the misfolding and degradation of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) Cl− channel. We introduced the ΔF508 mutation into Caenorhabditis elegans PGP-3, a 12-transmembrane ABC transporter with 15% identity to CFTR. When expressed in intestinal epithelial cells, PGP-3wt was stable and efficiently trafficked to the apical plasma membrane through a COPII-dependent mechanism. However, PGP-3ΔF508 was post-transcriptionally destabilized, resulting in reduced total and apical membrane protein levels. Genetic or physiological activation of the osmotic stress response pathway, which causes accumulation of the chemical chaperone glycerol, stabilized PGP-3ΔF508. Efficient degradation of PGP-3ΔF508 required the function of several C. elegans ER-associated degradation (ERAD) homologs, suggesting that destabilization occurs through an ERAD-type mechanism. Our studies show that the ΔF508 mutation causes post-transcriptional destabilization and degradation of PGP-3 in C. elegans epithelial cells. This model, combined with the power of C. elegans genetics, provides a new opportunity to genetically dissect metazoan ERQC.
- Received October 28, 2011.
- Accepted April 23, 2012.
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