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עמוד בית
Tue, 16.07.24

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April 2006
G. Asher and Y. Shaul

Ubiquitin-proteasome degradation is a key cellular process involved in almost every aspect of cell life. According to the current concept, proteins are stable unless they are marked by poly-ubiquitination for degradation by the 26S proteasomes. A new twist in the concept became evident while studying the degradation of the tumor suppressor p53, a protein that appeared to satisfy this principle. We have discovered that native p53 is also prone to ubiquitin-independent 20S proteasomal degradation, suggesting that certain proteins are inherently unstable. We further found that this process of degradation is mediated by 20S proteasomes and inhibited by NADH quinone oxidoreductase 1. Our recent findings together with previous observations of ubiquitin-independent degradation suggest the existence of ubiquitin-independent mechanisms for proteasomal protein degradation in the cells.


Y. Mosesson and Y. Yarden

Polyubiquitylation of cellular proteins has long been recognized as a prelude to a degradative fate in proteasomes. In recent years, however, ubiquitin conjugation has emerged as a regulatory strategy of considerable versatility. Most notably, monoubiquitylation is attributed an intimate role in trafficking of membrane proteins between various cellular compartments. Diverse classes of transmembrane proteins from across the eukaryotic spectrum (e.g., epidermal growth factor-receptor and other receptor tyrosine kinases) become modified with monoubiquitin molecules. Monoubiquitylation of substrates, in turn, regulates both their endocytosis at the plasma membrane and sorting in endosomes for delivery to lysosomes or vacuoles. A mechanistic rationale lies in the identification of a growing list of ubiquitin-binding domains carried by a variety of endocytic adaptor proteins. Thus, ubiquitin-conjugated membrane proteins may form extensive contacts with the endocytic machinery. Further, ubiquitin-binding adaptors and other endocytic components are, likewise, often monoubiquitylated. In this case, ubiquitin conjugation may serve to enhance intermolecular avidity in cargo-bound endocytic complexes, or alternatively, to mediate timely inactivation of ubiquitin-binding adaptors. Interestingly, the ubiquitin/endocytosis interface is appropriated by pathogenic organisms, for instance, during budding of viruses from host-infected cells. Moreover, compromised ubiquitin-mediated transport of certain signaling receptors is associated with disease states, including oncogenic transformation.



E. Rabinovich, D. Bussi, I. Shapira, G. Alalouf, C. Lipson, Y. Elkabetz, M. Glickman, M. Bajorek and S. Bar-Nun
D. Kornitzer
Distinct fungal species exhibit different cellular morphologies, such as yeast and filamentous (hyphal and pseudohyphal) forms, that are reflected in the macroscopic colony morphology. Dimorphic and multimorphic fungi can switch between these different morphologies, enabling the utilization of different food supplies in the case of saprophytes, and contributing to pathogenesis in the case of parasites. Cellular morphogenesis is often regulated by signal transduction pathways, and is intimately linked to the cell cycle machinery. Here we describe the role of ubiquitin-mediated degradation of cell cycle regulators and transcription factors involved in fungal morphogenesis
W. den Besten, M-L. Kuo, K. Tago, R.T. Williams and C.J. Sherr

The Ink4a-Arf locus, which encodes two distinct tumor suppressor proteins, is inactivated in many cancers. Whereas p16Ink4a is an inhibitor of cyclin D-dependent kinases, p19Arf (p14ARF in humans) antagonizes the E3 ubiquitin protein ligase activity of Mdm2 to activate p53. We now recognize that Arf functions in both p53-dependent and -independent modes to counteract hyper-proliferative signals originating from proto-oncogene activation, but its p53-independent activities remain poorly understood. Arf proteins are highly basic (> 20% arginine content, pI > 12) and predominantly localize within nucleoli in physical association with an abundant acidic protein, nucleophosmin (NPM/B23). When bound to NPM[1], Arf proteins are relatively stable with half-lives of 6–8 hours. Although mouse p19Arf contains only a single lysine residue and human p14ARF has none, both proteins are N-terminally ubiquitinated and degraded in proteasomes. Through as yet uncharacterized mechanisms, p19Arf induces p53-independent sumoylation of a variety of cellular target proteins with which it interacts, including both Mdm2 and NPM. A naturally occurring NPM mutant (NPMc) expressed in myeloid leukemia cells redirects both wild-type NPM and p19Arf to the cytoplasm, inhibits Arf-induced sumoylation, and attenuates p53 activity. Thus, ubiquitination and sumoylation can each influence Arf tumor suppressor activity.

[1] NPM = nucleophosmin

July 2004
E. Reinstein

The ubiquitin-proteasome pathway has a central role in selective degradation of intracellular proteins. Among the key proteins degraded by the system are those involved in the control of inflammation, cell cycle regulation and gene expression. With numerous important cellular pathways affected, derangements in the ubiquitin system were shown to result in a variety of human diseases including malignancies, neurodegenerative diseases and hereditary syndromes, and proteasome inhibition was implicated as a potential treatment for cancer and inflammatory conditions. Two proteasome inhibitors are currently under clinical evaluation for multiple myeloma and acute ischemic stroke. The ubiquitin system also has an important function in the immune and inflammatory response. It is involved in antigen processing and presentation to cytotoxic T cells, and the activation of nuclear factor-kappa B – the central transcription factor of the immune system. Since the proteasome is the central source of antigenic peptides that are presented to the immune system, some viruses, such as the Epstein-Barr virus, developed escape mechanisms that manipulate the ubiquitin-proteasome system in order to persist in the infected host. Understanding the mechanisms underlying the production of viral antigens by the ubiquitin-proteasome system may have therapeutic applications such as future development of vaccines.

May 2001
Aaron Ciechanover, MD, DSc

Between the 1960s and 1980s, the main focus of biological research was nucleic acids and the translation of the coded information into proteins. Protein degradation was a neglected area and regarded by many as a scavenger, non-specific and end process. While it was known that proteins are turning over, the large extent and high specificity of the process - where distinct proteins have half-lives that range from a few minutes to several days - have not been appreciated. The discovery of the lysosome by Dr. Christian de Duve did not change this view significantly, as this organelle is involved mostly in the degradation of extra- and not intracellular proteins, and it was clear that lysosomal proteases, similar to those of the gastrointestinal tract, cannot be substrate specific. The discovery of the complex cascade of the ubiquitin pathway has changed this view dramatically. It is now clear that degradation of cellular proteins is a highly complex, temporally controlled, and tightly regulated process that plays major roles in a broad array of basic pathways during cell life and death. With the multitude of substrates targeted and processes involved, it is not surprising that aberrations in the pathway have been recently implicated in the pathogenesis of many diseases, certain malignancies and neurodegeneration among them. Degradation of a protein via the ubiquitin pathway involves two successive steps: a) conjugation of multiple ubiquitin moieties to the substrate, and b) degradation of the tagged protein by the downstream 263 proteasome complex with release of free and re-utilizable ubiquitin. Despite intensive research, the unknown still exceeds what we currently know on intracellular protein degradation and major key problems remain unsolved. Among these are the modes of specific and timed recognition of the myriad substrates of the system and the nature of the mechanisms that underlie aberrations in the system and pathogenesis of diseases.

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