The unfolded protein response (UPR) is a cellular stress response related to the endoplasmic reticulum stress. It is a stress response that has been found to be conserved between all mammalian species, as well as yeast and worm organisms.
The UPR is activated in response to an accumulation of unfolded or misfolded proteins in the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum. In this scenario, the UPR has three aims: initially to restore normal function of the cell by halting protein translation, degrading misfolded proteins, and activating the signalling pathways that lead to increasing the production of molecular chaperones involved in protein folding. If these objectives are not achieved within a certain time span or the disruption is prolonged, the UPR aims towards apoptosis.
Sustained overactivation of the UPR has been implicated in prion diseases as well as several other neurodegenerative diseases, and inhibiting the UPR could become a treatment for those diseases.
Diseases amenable to UPR inhibition include Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and Huntington's disease.