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      Heavy Metals and Metalloids As a Cause for Protein Misfolding and Aggregation

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          Abstract

          While the toxicity of metals and metalloids, like arsenic, cadmium, mercury, lead and chromium, is undisputed, the underlying molecular mechanisms are not entirely clear. General consensus holds that proteins are the prime targets; heavy metals interfere with the physiological activity of specific, particularly susceptible proteins, either by forming a complex with functional side chain groups or by displacing essential metal ions in metalloproteins. Recent studies have revealed an additional mode of metal action targeted at proteins in a non-native state; certain heavy metals and metalloids have been found to inhibit the in vitro refolding of chemically denatured proteins, to interfere with protein folding in vivo and to cause aggregation of nascent proteins in living cells. Apparently, unfolded proteins with motile backbone and side chains are considerably more prone to engage in stable, pluridentate metal complexes than native proteins with their well-defined 3D structure. By interfering with the folding process, heavy metal ions and metalloids profoundly affect protein homeostasis and cell viability. This review describes how heavy metals impede protein folding and promote protein aggregation, how cells regulate quality control systems to protect themselves from metal toxicity and how metals might contribute to protein misfolding disorders.

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          Most cited references 78

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          Molecular chaperones in protein folding and proteostasis.

          Most proteins must fold into defined three-dimensional structures to gain functional activity. But in the cellular environment, newly synthesized proteins are at great risk of aberrant folding and aggregation, potentially forming toxic species. To avoid these dangers, cells invest in a complex network of molecular chaperones, which use ingenious mechanisms to prevent aggregation and promote efficient folding. Because protein molecules are highly dynamic, constant chaperone surveillance is required to ensure protein homeostasis (proteostasis). Recent advances suggest that an age-related decline in proteostasis capacity allows the manifestation of various protein-aggregation diseases, including Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Interventions in these and numerous other pathological states may spring from a detailed understanding of the pathways underlying proteome maintenance.
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            Principles that govern the folding of protein chains.

             C ANFINSEN (1973)
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              Biological and chemical approaches to diseases of proteostasis deficiency.

              Many diseases appear to be caused by the misregulation of protein maintenance. Such diseases of protein homeostasis, or "proteostasis," include loss-of-function diseases (cystic fibrosis) and gain-of-toxic-function diseases (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's disease). Proteostasis is maintained by the proteostasis network, which comprises pathways that control protein synthesis, folding, trafficking, aggregation, disaggregation, and degradation. The decreased ability of the proteostasis network to cope with inherited misfolding-prone proteins, aging, and/or metabolic/environmental stress appears to trigger or exacerbate proteostasis diseases. Herein, we review recent evidence supporting the principle that proteostasis is influenced both by an adjustable proteostasis network capacity and protein folding energetics, which together determine the balance between folding efficiency, misfolding, protein degradation, and aggregation. We review how small molecules can enhance proteostasis by binding to and stabilizing specific proteins (pharmacologic chaperones) or by increasing the proteostasis network capacity (proteostasis regulators). We propose that such therapeutic strategies, including combination therapies, represent a new approach for treating a range of diverse human maladies.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Biomolecules
                Biomolecules
                biomolecules
                Biomolecules
                MDPI
                2218-273X
                25 February 2014
                March 2014
                : 4
                : 1
                : 252-267
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg S-405 30, Sweden; E-Mails: sebastian.ibstedt@ 123456cmb.gu.se (S.I.); therese.jacobson@ 123456cmb.gu.se (T.J.)
                [2 ]Department of Biochemistry, University of Zurich, Zürich CH-8057, Switzerland; E-Mails: s.sharma@ 123456bioc.uzh.ch (S.K.S.); christen@ 123456bioc.uzh.ch (P.C.)
                Author notes
                [* ]Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail: markus.tamas@ 123456cmb.gu.se ; Tel.: +46-31-786-2548; Fax: +46-31-786-3910.
                Article
                biomolecules-04-00252
                10.3390/biom4010252
                4030994
                © 2014 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

                This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).

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