Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Protein localisation in the cell is controlled through the function of trafficking receptors, which recognise specific signal sequences and direct cargo proteins to different locations. The KDEL receptor (KDELR) was one of the first intracellular trafficking receptors identified and plays an essential role in maintaining the integrity of the early secretory pathway. The receptor recognises variants of a canonical C-terminal Lys-Asp-Glu-Leu (KDEL) signal sequence on ER-resident proteins when these escape to the Golgi, and targets these proteins to COPI- coated vesicles for retrograde transport back to the ER. The empty receptor is then recycled from the ER back to the Golgi by COPII-coated vesicles. Crystal structures of the KDELR show that it is structurally related to the PQ-loop family of transporters that are found in both pro- and eukaryotes, and shuttle sugars, amino acids and vitamins across cellular membranes. Furthermore, analogous to PQ-loop transporters, the KDELR undergoes a pH-dependent and ligand-regulated conformational cycle. Here, we propose that the striking structural similarity between the KDELR and PQ-loop transporters reveals a connection between transport and trafficking in the cell, with important implications for understanding trafficking receptor evolution and function.

Original publication




Journal article


J Cell Sci

Publication Date





Membrane transport, Structural Biology, Trafficking receptors