Upon emerging from the ribosome exiting tunnel, polypeptide folding occurs immediately with the assistance of both ribosome-associated and free chaperones. While many chaperones known to date are dedicated folding catalysts, recent studies have revealed a novel chaperoning system that functions at the interface of protein biogenesis and quality control by using a special “holdase” activity in order to sort and channel client proteins to distinct destinations. The key component, Bag6/Bat3/Scythe, can effectively shield long hydrophobic segments exposed on the surface of a polypeptide, preventing aggregation or inappropriate interactions before a triaging decision is made. The biological consequences of Bag6-mediated chaperoning are divergent for different substrates, ranging from membrane integration to proteasome targeting and destruction. Accordingly, Bag6 can act in various cellular contexts in order to execute many essential cellular functions, while dysfunctions in the Bag6 system can cause severe cellular abnormalities that may be associated with some pathological conditions.
Here we discuss a newly discovered chaperone complex that uses a special “holdase” activity to channel client proteins to distinct cellular destinations. This activity modulates various cellular processes including tail-anchored (TA) protein biogenesis, ER-associated degradation (ERAD), quality control of mislocalized proteins and defective ribosome products, transcriptional regulation, DNA damage response, and apoptosis.