AAA ATPase p97/VCP: cellular functions, disease and therapeutic potential

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Abstract

p97/VCP, a member of the AAA-ATPase super family, has been associated with a wide variety of essential cellular protein pathways com prising: (i) nuclear envelope reconstruction, (ii) cell cycle, (iii) Golgi reassembly, (iv) suppression of apoptosis and (v) DNA-damage response [1–6]. In addition, vasolin-containing protein (VCP) dislodges the ubiquitinated proteins from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and chaperones them to the cytosol for proteasomal degradation by endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation (ERAD) [7]. The interactions of VCP in the endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation (ERAD) pathway determine the substrate selection for proteasomal degradation. Moreover, the interaction with VCP is also required for the ubiquitination of substrate. VCP is phosphorylated by the master cellular kinase, Akt as a mechanism to regulate ERAD [8]. These multiple interactions in protein degradation pathways points to central role of VCP in misfolded protein degradation. VCP has a polyglutamine and ubiquitin-binding capacity and is involved in proteasomal degradation, cytosolic aggregation and processing of polyQ and polyUb aggregates in neurodegenerative and other misfolded protein diseases [9,10]. Mutations in VCP gene are also linked to a protein deposition disorder, IBMFD [11]. We propose VCP as a therapeutic target for diseases caused by cytosolic protein aggregation or degradation of misfolded protein. We predict that selective interference of VCP interaction(s) with aberrant protein or its ERAD function will be an effective therapeutic site to rescue functional misfolded protein in diseases like cystic fibrosis and alpha-1-trypsin deficiency. The control of VCP expression is also proposed to be a potential therapeutic target in ex-polyQ-induced neurodegenerative diseases [12]. The further functional characterization of VCP and associated proteins in these diseases will help in designing of selective therapeutics.

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