Accumulation of unfolded/misfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) activates the unfolded protein response (UPR). The ATF6 pathway is one of the three major pathways in vertebrates. Although ATF6, a transmembrane-type glycoprotein in the ER, functions as a UPR sensor/transducer, it is an unstable protein with a half-life of approximately 2 h and is constitutively subjected to the ER-associated degradation system with the location of the misfolded part in the ER lumen (ERAD-L). ERAD-L substrates are delivered to the cytosol through the retrotranslocon, which likely contains HRD1 (E3), gp78 (E3), SEL1L (a partner of HRD1), Derlin1/2/3 and Herp1/2. We previously showed that ATF6 represents a novel transmembrane-type ERAD-L substrate requiring both EDEM1/2/3-mediated mannose trimming and SEL1L. Here, by constructing and analyzing chicken DT40 cells deficient in various components of the retrotranslocon, we show that degradation of ATF6 requires Derlin2 or Derlin3 and that Derlin2 and Derlin3 are redundant for ERAD-L of ATF6. We further show that degradation of ATF6 requires Herp1 or Herp2 and that Herp1 and Herp2 are redundant for ERAD-L of ATF6. Furthermore, by investigating five more ERAD-L substrates, we show that SEL1L-dependent substrates require Derlin2/3 and Herp1/2 regardless of their soluble or transmembrane nature. Our results suggest that ERAD-L substrates take several routes to the cytosol. The HRD1-engaged route 1 requires SEL1L, Derlin2 or Derlin3, and Herp1 or Herp2, whereas the HRD1-engaged route 2 does not require them functionally. It remains to be determined whether the latter requires Derlin1 and whether these two routes are compositionally distinct.
Key words: endoplasmic reticulum, proteasome, protein degradation, protein misfolding, ubiquitin
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