The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is commonly referred to as the factory of the cell, as it is responsible for a large amount of protein and lipid synthesis. As a membrane-bound organelle, the ER has a distinct environment that is ideal for its functions in synthesizing these primary cellular components. Many different quality control machineries exist to maintain ER stability under the stresses associated with synthesizing, folding, and modifying complex proteins and lipids. The best understood of these mechanisms is the unfolded protein response of the ER (UPRER), in which transmembrane proteins serve as sensors, which trigger a coordinated transcriptional response of genes dedicated for mitigating the stress. As the name suggests, the UPRER is most well described as a functional response to protein misfolding stress. Here, we focus on recent findings and emerging themes in additional roles of the UPRER outside of protein homeostasis, including lipid homeostasis, autophagy, apoptosis, and immunity.
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