The co-chaperone DNAJA2 buffers proteasomal degradation of cytosolic proteins with missense mutations

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Mutations can result in the loss of a protein’s native function due to protein misfolding, which is generally handled by an intricate protein quality control network. To better understand the triaging mechanisms of misfolded cytosolic proteins, we screened a human mutation library to identify a panel of unstable mutations. The degradation of these mutated cytosolic proteins is largely dependent on the ubiquitin proteasome system. Using BioID proximity labelling, we found that the co-chaperones DNAJA1 and DNAJA2 are key interactors of one of the mutated proteins. Notably, the absence of DNAJA2 increases the turnover of the mutant protein but not of the wild-type protein. Our work indicates that missense mutations in cytosolic proteins can promote interactions with molecular chaperones that normally do not occur. Assessment of the broader panel of cytosolic mutant proteins shows that the co-chaperone DNAJA2 exhibits three distinct behaviours: acting to stabilize solely the mutant, both the wild-type and mutant proteins, or being dispensable. Our work illustrates how distinct elements of the protein homeostasis network are utilized in the presence of a cytosolic misfolded protein.

Summary Statement

We identified a panel of cytosolic mutant proteins degraded by the proteasome. DNAJA2 is often required to prevent mutant protein turnover, even if it is sometimes dispensable for the wild-type protein.

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