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Mol Cell. 2009 May 15;34(3):259-69. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2009.04.026.

A role for ubiquitin in selective autophagy.

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  • 1Institute of Biochemistry II and Cluster of Excellence Macromolecular Complexes, Goethe University, Theodor-Stern-Kai 7, Frankfurt, Germany.


Ubiquitination is the hallmark of protein degradation by the 26S proteasome. However, the proteasome is limited in its capacity to degrade oligomeric and aggregated proteins. Removal of harmful protein aggregates is mediated by autophagy, a mechanism by which the cell sequesters cytosolic cargo and delivers it for degradation by the lysosome. Identification of autophagy receptors, such as p62/SQSTM1 and NBR1, which simultaneously bind both ubiquitin and autophagy-specific ubiquitin-like modifiers, LC3/GABARAP, has provided a molecular link between ubiquitination and autophagy. This review explores the hypothesis that ubiquitin represents a selective degradation signal suitable for targeting various types of cargo, ranging from protein aggregates to membrane-bound organelles and microbes.

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