Human cells express large amounts of different proteins continuously that must fold into well-defined structures that need to remain correctly folded and assemble in order to ensure their cellular and biological functions. The integrity of this protein balance/homeostasis, also named proteostasis, is maintained by the proteostasis network (PN). This integrated biological system, which comprises about 2000 proteins (chaperones, folding enzymes, degradation components), control and coordinate protein synthesis folding and localization, conformational maintenance, and degradation. This network is particularly challenged by mutations such as those found in genetic diseases, because of the inability of an altered peptide sequence to properly engage PN components that trigger misfolding and loss of function. Thus, deletions found in the ΔF508 variant of the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) transmembrane regulator (CFTR) triggering CF or missense mutations found in the Z variant of Alpha 1-Antitrypsin deficiency (AATD), leading to lung and liver diseases, can accelerate misfolding and/or generate aggregates. Conversely to CF variants, for which three correctors are already approved (ivacaftor, lumacaftor/ivacaftor, and most recently tezacaftor/ivacaftor), there are limited therapeutic options for AATD. Therefore, a more detailed understanding of the PN components governing AAT variant biogenesis and their manipulation by pharmacological intervention could delay, or even better, avoid the onset of AATD-related pathologies.
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