Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) chaperones and oxidoreductases are abundant enzymes that mediate the production of fully folded secretory and transmembrane proteins. Resisting the Golgi and plasma membrane-directed "bulk flow," ER chaperones and oxidoreductases enter retrograde trafficking whenever they are pulled outside of the ER by their substrates. Solid tumors are characterized by the increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), combined with reduced blood flow that leads to low oxygen supply and ER stress. Under these conditions, hypoxia and the unfolded protein response upregulate their target genes. When this occurs, ER oxidoreductases and chaperones become important regulators of tumor growth. However, under these conditions, these proteins not only promote the folding of proteins, but also alter the properties of the plasma membrane and hence modulate tumor immune recognition. For instance, high levels of calreticulin serve as an "eat-me" signal on the surface of tumor cells. Conversely, both intracellular and surface BiP/GRP78 promotes tumor growth. Other ER folding assistants able to modulate the properties of tumor tissue include protein disulfide isomerase (PDI), Ero1α and GRP94. Understanding the roles and mechanisms of ER chaperones in regulating tumor cell functions and immunorecognition will lead to important insight for the development of novel cancer therapies.
Keywords: Ca2+ signaling; cancer; endoplasmic reticulum; immunity; localization; redox.