Disorders of FZ-CRD; Insights towards FZ-CRD folding and therapeutic landscape

Reham M. Milhem, Bassam R. Ali

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The ER is hub for protein folding. Proteins that harbor a Frizzled cysteine-rich domain (FZ-CRD) possess 10 conserved cysteine motifs held by a unique disulfide bridge pattern which attains a correct fold in the ER. Little is known about implications of disease-causing missense mutations within FZ-CRD families. Mutations in FZ-CRD of Frizzled class receptor 4 (FZD4) and Muscle, skeletal, receptor tyrosine kinase (MuSK) and Receptor tyrosine kinase-like orphan receptor 2 (ROR2) cause Familial Exudative Vitreoretinopathy (FEVR), Congenital Myasthenic Syndrome (CMS), and Robinow Syndrome (RS) respectively. We highlight reported pathogenic inherited missense mutations in FZ-CRD of FZD4, MuSK and ROR2 which misfold, and traffic abnormally in the ER, with ER-associated degradation (ERAD) as a common pathogenic mechanism for disease. Our review shows that all studied FZ-CRD mutants of RS, FEVR and CMS result in misfolded proteins and/or partially misfolded proteins with an ERAD fate, thus we coin them as "disorders of FZ-CRD". Abnormal trafficking was demonstrated in 17 of 29 mutants studied; 16 mutants were within and/or surrounding the FZ-CRD with two mutants distant from FZ-CRD. These ER-retained mutants were improperly N-glycosylated confirming ER-localization. FZD4 and MuSK mutants were tagged with polyubiquitin chains confirming targeting for proteasomal degradation. Investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms of these mutations is important since misfolded protein and ER-targeted therapies are in development. The P344R-MuSK kinase mutant showed around 50% of its in-vitro autophosphorylation activity and P344R-MuSK increased two-fold on proteasome inhibition. M105T-FZD4, C204Y-FZD4, and P344R-MuSK mutants are thermosensitive and therefore, might benefit from extending the investigation to a larger number of chemical chaperones and/or proteasome inhibitors. Nonetheless, FZ-CRD ER-lipidation it less characterized in the literature and recent structural data sheds light on the importance of lipidation in protein glycosylation, proper folding, and ER trafficking. Current treatment strategies in-place for the conformational disease landscape is highlighted. From this review, we envision that disorders of FZ-CRD might be receptive to therapies that target FZ-CRD misfolding, regulation of fatty acids, and/or ER therapies; thus paving the way for a newly explored paradigm to treat different diseases with common defects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalMolecular Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 31 2019


  • Cystic fibrosis conductance regulator protein
  • ERAD; protein misfolding
  • Familial exudative vitreoretinopathy; congenital myasthenic syndrome; Robinow syndrome; receptor tyrosine kinase-like orphan receptor 2; frizzled class receptor 4; muscle
  • Frizzled cysteine-rich domain
  • Frizzled receptors
  • Lipidation
  • Proteostasis
  • Receptor tyrosine kinase; conformational diseases
  • Skeletal
  • cis-unsaturated fatty acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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