Rhomboid family pseudoproteases use the ER quality control machinery to regulate intercellular signaling.
Zettl M., Adrain C., Strisovsky K., Lastun V., Freeman M.
Intramembrane proteolysis governs many cellular control processes, but little is known about how intramembrane proteases are regulated. iRhoms are a conserved subfamily of proteins related to rhomboid intramembrane serine proteases that lack key catalytic residues. We have used a combination of genetics and cell biology to determine that these "pseudoproteases" inhibit rhomboid-dependent signaling by the epidermal growth factor receptor pathway in Drosophila, thereby regulating sleep. iRhoms prevent the cleavage of potential rhomboid substrates by promoting their destabilization by endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-associated degradation; this mechanism has been conserved in mammalian cells. The exploitation of the intrinsic quality control machinery of the ER represents a new mode of regulation of intercellular signaling. Inactive cognates of enzymes are common, but their functions are mostly unclear; our data indicate that pseudoenzymes can readily evolve into regulatory proteins, suggesting that this may be a significant evolutionary mechanism.