A target-agnostic screen identifies approved drugs to stabilize the endoplasmic reticulum-resident proteome

Cell Rep. 2021 Apr 27;35(4):109040. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109040.


Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) dysregulation is associated with pathologies including neurodegenerative, muscular, and diabetic conditions. Depletion of ER calcium can lead to the loss of resident proteins in a process termed exodosis. To identify compounds that attenuate the redistribution of ER proteins under pathological conditions, we performed a quantitative high-throughput screen using the Gaussia luciferase (GLuc)-secreted ER calcium modulated protein (SERCaMP) assay, which monitors secretion of ER-resident proteins triggered by calcium depletion. We identify several clinically used drugs, including bromocriptine, and further characterize them using assays to measure effects on ER calcium, ER stress, and ER exodosis. Bromocriptine elicits protective effects in cell-based models of exodosis as well as in vivo models of stroke and diabetes. Bromocriptine analogs with reduced dopamine receptor activity retain similar efficacy in stabilizing the ER proteome, indicating a non-canonical mechanism of action. This study describes a strategic approach to identify small-molecule drugs capable of improving ER proteostasis in human disease conditions.

Keywords: ER calcium; ER proteome; ER retention sequence; ER stress; SERCaMP; bromocriptine; diabetes; endoplasmic reticulum; exodosis; stroke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Proteome / metabolism*


  • Proteome