Efficiency and fidelity of protein secretion are achieved thanks to the presence of different steps, located sequentially in time and space along the secretory compartment, controlling protein folding and maturation. After entering into the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), secretory proteins attain their native structure thanks to specific chaperones and enzymes. Only correctly folded molecules are allowed by quality control (QC) mechanisms to leave the ER and proceed to downstream compartments. Proteins that cannot fold properly are instead retained in the ER to be finally destined to proteasomal degradation. Exiting from the ER requires, in most cases, the use of coated vesicles, departing at the ER exit sites, which will fuse with the Golgi compartment, thus releasing their cargoes. Protein accumulation in the ER can be caused by a too stringent QC or by ineffective transport: these situations could be deleterious for the organism, due to the loss of the secreted protein, and to the cell itself, because of abnormal increase of protein concentration in the ER. In both cases, diseases can arise. In this review, we will describe the pathophysiology of protein folding and transport between the ER and the Golgi compartment.
Keywords: COPII vesicles; ERGIC; endoplasmic reticulum; protein folding; traffic.