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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Aug 29;97(18):9902-6.

Inhibition of the ubiquitin-proteasome system in Alzheimer's disease.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia in the elderly. Although several genetic defects have been identified in patients with a family history of this disease, the majority of cases involve individuals with no known genetic predisposition. A mutant form of ubiquitin, termed Ub(+1), has been selectively observed in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, including those with nonfamilial Alzheimer's disease, but it has been unclear why Ub(+1) expression should be deleterious. Here we show that Ub(+1) is an efficient substrate for polyubiquitination in vitro and in transfected human cells. The resulting polyubiquitin chains are refractory to disassembly by deubiquitinating enzymes and potently inhibit the degradation of a polyubiquitinated substrate by purified 26S proteasomes. Thus, expression of Ub(+1) in aging brain could result in dominant inhibition of the Ub-proteasome system, leading to neuropathologic consequences.

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