Proteins containing ubiquitin-like (Ubl) domains not only bind to 26S proteasomes but also induce their activation.


Blavatnick Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115; [Email]


During protein degradation by the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway, latent 26S proteasomes in the cytosol must assume an active form. Proteasomes are activated when ubiquitylated substrates bind to them and interact with the proteasome-bound deubiquitylase Usp14/Ubp6. The resulting increase in the proteasome's degradative activity was recently shown to be mediated by Usp14's ubiquitin-like (Ubl) domain, which, by itself, can trigger proteasome activation. Many other proteins with diverse cellular functions also contain Ubl domains and can associate with 26S proteasomes. We therefore tested if various Ubl-containing proteins that have important roles in protein homeostasis or disease also activate 26S proteasomes. All seven Ubl-containing proteins tested-the shuttling factors Rad23A, Rad23B, and Ddi2; the deubiquitylase Usp7, the ubiquitin ligase Parkin, the cochaperone Bag6, and the protein phosphatase UBLCP1-stimulated peptide hydrolysis two- to fivefold. Rather than enhancing already active proteasomes, Rad23B and its Ubl domain activated previously latent 26S particles. Also, Ubl-containing proteins (if present with an unfolded protein) increased proteasomal adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP) hydrolysis, the step which commits substrates to degradation. Surprisingly, some of these proteins also could stimulate peptide hydrolysis even when their Ubl domains were deleted. However, their Ubl domains were required for the increased ATPase activity. Thus, upon binding to proteasomes, Ubl-containing proteins not only deliver substrates (e.g., the shuttling factors) or provide additional enzymatic activities (e.g., Parkin) to proteasomes, but also increase their capacity for proteolysis.

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