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Mol Cell Biol. 2003 Oct;23(20):7425-36.

c-Fos proto-oncoprotein is degraded by the proteasome independently of its own ubiquitinylation in vivo.

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  • 1Institute of Molecular Genetics, UMR5535/IFR122, CNRS, 34293 Montpellier Cédex 05, France.


Prior ubiquitinylation of the unstable c-Fos proto-oncoprotein is thought to be required for recognition and degradation by the proteasome. Contradicting this view, we report that, although c-Fos can form conjugates with ubiquitin in vivo, nonubiquitinylatable c-Fos mutants show regulated degradation identical to that of the wild-type protein in living cells under two classical conditions of study: transient c-fos gene expression during the G(0)/G(1) phase transition upon stimulation by mitogens and constitutive expression during asynchronous growth. Moreover, c-Fos destruction during the G(0)/G(1) phase transition is unusual because it depends on two distinct but cumulative mechanisms. We report here that one mechanism involves a C-terminal destabilizer which does not need an active ubiquitin cycle, whereas the other involves an N-terminal destabilizer dependent on ubiquitinylation of an upstream c-Fos breakdown effector. In addition to providing new insights into the mechanisms of c-Fos protein destruction, an important consequence of our work is that ubiquitinylation-dependent proteasomal degradation claimed for a number of proteins should be reassessed on a new experimental basis.

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