Stress tolerance of misfolded carboxypeptidase Y requires maintenance of protein trafficking and degradative pathways

Eric D. Spear, Davis T.W. Ng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The accumulation of aberrantly folded proteins can lead to cell dysfunction and death. Currently, the mechanisms of toxicity and cellular defenses against their effects remain incompletely understood. In the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), stress caused by misfolded proteins activates the unfolded protein response (UPR). The UPR is an ER-to-nucleus signal transduction pathway that regulates a wide variety of target genes to maintain cellular homeostasis. We studied the effects of ER stress in budding yeast through expression of the well-characterized misfolded protein, CPY*. By challenging cells within their physiological limits to resist stress, we show that the UPR is required to maintain essential functions including protein translocation, glycosylation, degradation, and transport. Under stress, the ER-associated degradation (ERAD) pathway for misfolded proteins is saturable. To maintain homeostasis, an "overflow" pathway dependent on the UPR transports excess substrate to the vacuole for turnover. The importance of this pathway was revealed through mutant strains compromised in the vesicular trafficking of excess CPY*. Expression of CPY* at levels tolerated by wild-type cells was toxic to these strains despite retaining the ability to activate the UPR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2756-2767
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular biology of the cell
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2003


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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