Cells possess an extensive network of components to safeguard proteome integrity and maintain protein homeostasis (proteostasis). When this proteostasis network (PN) declines in performance, as may be the case during aging, newly synthesized proteins are no longer able to fold efficiently and metastable proteins lose their functionally active conformations, particularly under conditions of cell stress. Apart from loss-of-function effects, a critical consequence of PN deficiency is the accumulation of cytotoxic protein aggregates, which are also associated with many age-dependent neurodegenerative diseases and other medical disorders. Here we discuss recent evidence that the chronic production of aberrantly folded and aggregated proteins in these diseases is harmful by overtaxing PN capacity, setting in motion a vicious cycle of increasing proteome imbalance that eventually leads to PN collapse and cell death.
Keywords: degradation; molecular chaperones; neurodegenerative disease; protein (mis)folding; protein aggregation; proteostasis.
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