The accumulation of unfolded or misfolded proteins in the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) results in ER stress that triggers cytoprotective signaling pathways, termed the unfolded protein response (UPR), to restore and maintain homeostasis in the ER or to induce apoptosis if ER stress remains unmitigated. The UPR signaling network encompasses three core elements, i.e., PKR-like ER kinase (PERK), activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6), and inositol-requiring protein-1 (IRE1). Activation of these three branch pathways of the UPR leads to the translation arrest and degradation of misfolded proteins, the expression of ER molecular chaperones, and the expansion of the ER membrane to decrease the load of proteins and increase the protein-folding capacity in the ER. Recently, the essential roles of the UPR have been implicated in a number of mammalian diseases, particularly viral diseases. In virus-infected cells, the cellular translation machinery is hijacked by the infecting virus to produce large amounts of viral proteins, which inevitably perturbs ER homeostasis and causes ER stress. This review summarizes current knowledge about the UPR signaling pathways, highlights two identified UPR pathways in plants, and discuss progress in elucidating the UPR in virus-infected cells and its functional roles in viral infection.
Keywords: ER stress; endoplasmic reticulum; signaling transduction; unfolded protein response; virus.