Biological checkpoints are known to function in the cellular nucleus to monitor the integrity of inherited genetic information. It is now understood that posttranslational checkpoint systems operate in numerous biosynthetic compartments where they orchestrate the surveillance of encoded protein structures. This is particularly true for the serpins where opposing, but complementary, systems operate in the early secretory pathway to initially facilitate protein folding and then selectively target the misfolded proteins for proteolytic elimination. A current challenge is to elucidate how this posttranslational checkpoint can modify the severity of numerous loss-of-function and gain-of-toxic-function diseases, some of which are caused by mutant serpins. This chapter provides a description of the experimental methodology by which the fate of a newly synthesized serpin is monitored, and how the processing of asparagine-linked oligosaccharides helps to facilitate both the protein folding and disposal events.
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