Numerous integral membrane proteins are degraded in the mammalian ER. HMG-CoA reductase (HMG-R), a key enzyme in the mevalonate pathway by which isoprenoids and sterols are synthesized, is one substrate of ER degradation. The degradation of HMG-R is modulated by feedback signals from the mevalonate pathway. We investigated the role of regulated degradation of the two isozymes of HMG-R, Hmg1p and Hmg2p, in the physiology of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Hmg1p was quite stable, whereas Hmg2p was rapidly degraded. Degradation of Hmg2p proceeded independently of vacuolar proteases or secretory traffic, indicating that Hmg2p degradation occurred at the ER. Hmg2p stability was strongly affected by modulation of the mevalonate pathway through pharmacological or genetic means. Decreased mevalonate pathway flux resulted in decreased degradation of Hmg2p. One signal for degradation of Hmg2p was a nonsterol, mevalonate-derived molecule produced before the synthesis of squalene. Genetic evidence indicated that a farnesylated protein may also be necessary for Hmg2p degradation. Studies with reporter genes demonstrated that the stability of each isozyme was determined by its noncatalytic NH2-terminal domain. Our data show that ER protein degradation is widely conserved among eukaryotes, and that feedback control of HMG-R degradation is an ancient paradigm of regulation.

This content is only available as a PDF.