Autophagy: an ER protein quality control process

Autophagy. Apr-Jun 2006;2(2):135-7. doi: 10.4161/auto.2.2.2388. Epub 2006 Apr 6.


Protein quality control processes active in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), including ER-associated protein degradation (ERAD) and the unfolded protein response (UPR), prevent the cytotoxic effects that can result from the accumulation of misfolded proteins. Characterization of a yeast mutant deficient in ERAD, a proteasome-dependent degradation pathway, revealed the employment of two overflow pathways from the ER to the vacuole when ERAD was compromised. One removes the soluble misfolded protein via the biosynthetic pathway and the second clears aggregated proteins via autophagy. Previously, autophagy had been implicated in the clearance of cytoplasmic aggresomes, but was not known to play a direct role in ER protein quality control. These findings provide insight into the molecular mechanisms that result in the gain-of-function liver disease associated with both alpha1-deficiency and hypofibrinogenemia (abnormally low levels of plasma fibrinogen, which is required for blood clotting), and emphasize the need for a more complete understanding of the molecular mechanisms of autophagy and its relationship to protein quality control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Autophagy / physiology*
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex / physiology
  • Protein Folding*
  • Protein Transport / physiology*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / physiology*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism


  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex