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J Biol Chem. 2007 Jun 22;282(25):18448-57. Epub 2007 Apr 12.

Mass spectrometry reveals the missing links in the assembly pathway of the bacterial 20 S proteasome.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, Lensfield Road, Cambridge, CB2 1EW, United Kingdom.


The 20 S proteasome is an essential proteolytic particle, responsible for degrading short-lived and abnormal intracellular proteins. The 700-kDa assembly is comprised of 14 alpha-type and 14 beta-type subunits, which form a cylindrical architecture composed of four stacked heptameric rings (alpha7beta7beta7alpha7). The formation of the 20 S proteasome is a complex process that involves a cascade of folding, assembly, and processing events. To date, the understanding of the assembly pathway is incomplete due to the experimental challenges of capturing short-lived intermediates. In this study, we have applied a real-time mass spectrometry approach to capture transient species along the assembly pathway of the 20 S proteasome from Rhodococcus erythropolis. In the course of assembly, we observed formation of an early alpha/beta-heterodimer as well as an unprocessed half-proteasome particle. Formation of mature holoproteasomes occurred in concert with the disappearance of half-proteasomes. We also analyzed the beta-subunits before and during assembly and reveal that those with longer propeptides are incorporated into half- and full proteasomes more rapidly than those that are heavily truncated. To characterize the preholoproteasome, formed by docking of two unprocessed half-proteasomes and not observed during assembly of wild type subunits, we trapped this intermediate using a beta-subunit mutational variant. In summary, this study provides evidence for transient intermediates in the assembly pathway and reveals detailed insight into the cleavage sites of the propeptide.

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