Converging pathways in the occurrence of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in Huntington's disease.

Institute of Biomedical Sciences, FONDAP Center for Molecular Studies of the Cell (CEMC), Faculty of Medicine, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile.
Current Molecular Medicine (Impact Factor: 3.61). 02/2011; 11(1):1-12. DOI: 10.2174/156652411794474419
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT A variety of neurological diseases including Huntington's disease (HD), Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease share common neuropathology, primarily featuring the presence of abnormal protein inclusions containing specific misfolded proteins. Mutations leading to expansion of a poly-glutamine track in Huntingtin cause HD, and trigger its misfolding and aggregation. Recent evidence indicates that alterations in the secretory pathway, in particular the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), are emerging features of HD. Although it is not clear how cytoplasmic/nuclear located mutant Huntingtin alters the function of the ER, several reports indicate that mutant Huntingtin affects many essential processes related to the secretory pathway, including inhibition of ER-associated degradation, altered ER/Golgi vesicular trafficking and axonal transport, disrupted autophagy and abnormal ER calcium homeostasis. All these alterations are predicted to have a common pathological outcome associated to disturbance of protein folding and maturation pathways at the ER, generating chronic ER stress and neuronal dysfunction. Here, we review recent evidence involving ER stress in HD pathogenesis and discuss possible therapeutic strategies to target organelle function in the context of disease.

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    ABSTRACT: The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is the point of entry of proteins into the secretory pathway. Nascent peptides interact with the ER quality control machinery that ensures correct folding of the nascent proteins. Failure to properly fold proteins can lead to loss of protein function and cytotoxic aggregation of misfolded proteins that can lead to cell death. To cope with increases in the ER unfolded secretory protein burden, cells have evolved the Unfolded Protein Response (UPR). The UPR is the primary signaling pathway that monitors the state of the ER folding environment. When the unfolded protein burden overwhelms the capacity of the ER quality control machinery, a state termed ER stress, sensor proteins detect accumulation of misfolded peptides and trigger the UPR transcriptional response. The UPR, which is conserved from yeast to mammals, consists of an ensemble of complex signaling pathways that aims at adapting the ER to the new misfolded protein load. To determine how different factors impact the ER folding environment, various tools and assays have been developed. In this review, we discuss recent advances in live cell imaging reporters and model systems that enable researchers to monitor changes in the unfolded secretory protein burden and activation of the UPR and its associated signaling pathways.
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