Reporting in Cell, the laboratory of Professor David Ron (Cambridge Institute for Medical Research) has elucidated a control mechanism for proper protein folding in cells, a process implicated in diverse diseases including neurodegeneration and cancer. Proteins must fold into their correct three-dimensional structure to function properly; and cells detect and respond to incorrect protein folding by upregulating the machinery that assists protein folding and by directing misfolded proteins for destruction.
Research in the Ron group focuses on the control of this ‘unfolded protein response’ in hope that better understanding of protein folding and surveillance might provide opportunities for new therapies. In the new study, Niko Amin-Wetzel and Reuben Saunders, postgraduate students in the Ron group, have uncovered a control step through which chaperones link the burden of unfolded proteins to the activity of a key membrane receptor, IRE1, thereby allowing a rapid cell stress response.
The full article is available online at Cell.com.