Many human diseases arise as a result of mutations within genes encoding essential proteins. In many cases, the mutations are not so severe as to render the protein biologically inactive. Rather, the mutations oftentimes result in only subtle protein-folding abnormalities. In the case of the CFTR protein, a mutation leading to the loss of a single amino acid is responsible for the diseased state in the majority of individuals with cystic fibrosis. Here the newly synthesized mutant CFTR protein, missing a phenylalanine residue at position 508 (ΔF508 CFTR), is unable to transit from the endoplasmic reticulum to the plasma membrane, where it functions as a regulator of chloride transport. All of the available evidence indicate that the newly synthesized ΔF508 CFTR protein adopts a slightly altered conformation and therefore is retained at the level of the endoplasmic reticulum, ostensibly by the actions of the cellular quality control system. Because the mutant protein is capable of functioning as a chloride channel, developing ways to elicit its release out of the ER and to the plasma membrane has important clinical implications. Herein, we discuss our recent studies showing that the proteinfolding defect associated with the ΔF508 CFTR mutation, as well as a number of other temperature-sensitive mutations, can be overcome by strategies designed to influence protein folding inside the cell. Specifically we show that a number of low-molecular-weight compounds, all of which are known to stabilize proteins in their native conformation, are effective in rescuing the folding and/or processing defects associated with different mutations that oftentimes lead to human disease.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology