The ERAD system is restricted by elevated ceramides

Sci Adv. 2023 Jan 13;9(2):eadd8579. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.add8579. Epub 2023 Jan 13.


Misfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) are removed through a process known as ER-associated degradation (ERAD). ERAD occurs through an integral membrane protein quality control system that recognizes substrates, retrotranslocates the substrates across the membrane, and ubiquitinates and extracts the substrates from the membrane for degradation at the cytosolic proteasome. While ERAD systems are known to regulate lipid biosynthetic enzymes, the regulation of ERAD systems by the lipid composition of cellular membranes remains unexplored. Here, we report that the ER membrane composition influences ERAD function by incapacitating substrate extraction. Unbiased lipidomic profiling revealed that elevation of specific very-long-chain ceramides leads to a marked increase in the level of ubiquitinated substrates in the ER membrane and concomitantly reduces extracted substrates in the cytoplasm. This work reveals a previously unrecognized mechanism in which ER membrane lipid remodeling changes the activity of ERAD.