Quality control in the endoplasmic reticulum must discriminate nascent proteins in their folding process from terminally unfolded molecules, selectively degrading the latter. Unassembled Ig-μ and J chains, two glycoproteins with five N-linked glycans and one N-linked glycan, respectively, are degraded by cytosolic proteasomes after a lag from synthesis, during which glycan trimming occurs. Inhibitors of mannosidase I (kifunensine), but not of mannosidase II (swainsonine), prevent the degradation of μ chains. Kifunensine also inhibits J chain dislocation and degradation, without inhibiting secretion of IgM polymers. In contrast, glucosidase inhibitors do not significantly affect the kinetics of μ and J degradation. These results suggest that removal of the terminal mannose from the central branch acts as a timer in dictating the degradation of transport-incompetent, glycosylated Ig subunits in a calnexin-independent way. Kifunensine does not inhibit the degradation of an unglycosylated substrate (λ Ig light chains) or of chimeric μ chains extended with the transmembrane region of the α T cell receptor chain, implying the existence of additional pathways for extracting proteins from the endoplasmic reticulum lumen for proteasomal degradation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas