The requirement for molecular chaperones during endoplasmic reticulum-associated protein degradation demonstrates that protein export and import are mechanistically distinct.
Polypeptide import into the yeast endoplasmic reticulum (ER) requires two hsp70s, Ssa1p in the cytosol and BiP (Kar2p) in the ER lumen. After import, aberrant polypeptides may be exported to the cytoplasm for degradation by the proteasome, and defects in the ER chaperone calnexin (Cne1p) compromise their degradation. Both import and export require BiP and the Sec61p translocation complex, suggesting that import and export may be mechanistically related. We now show that the cne1Delta and two kar2 mutant alleles exhibit a synthetic interaction and that the export and degradation of pro-alpha factor is defective in kar2 mutant microsomes. Pulse-chase analysis indicates that A1PiZ, another substrate for degradation, is stabilized in the kar2 strains at the restrictive temperature. Because two of the kar2 mutants examined are proficient for polypeptide import, the roles of BiP during ER protein export and import differ, indicating that these processes must be mechanistically distinct. To examine whether Ssa1p drives polypeptides from the ER and is also required for degradation, we assembled reactions using strains either containing a mutation in SSA1 or in which the level of Ssa1p could be regulated. We found that pro-alpha factor and A1PiZ were degraded normally, indicating further that import and export are distinct and that other cytosolic factors may pull polypeptides from the ER.