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J Biol Chem. 2009 Dec 18;284(51):35485-94. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.052928.

The lysine 48 and lysine 63 ubiquitin conjugates are processed differently by the 26 s proteasome.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado 80045, USA.


The role of Lys-63 ubiquitin chains in targeting proteins for proteasomal degradation is still obscure. We systematically compared proteasomal processing of Lys-63 ubiquitin chains with that of the canonical proteolytic signal, Lys-48 ubiquitin chains. Quantitative mass spectrometric analysis of ubiquitin chains in HeLa cells determines that the levels of Lys-63 ubiquitin chains are insensitive to short-time proteasome inhibition. Also, the Lys-48/Lys-63 ratio in the 26 S proteasome-bound fraction is 1.7-fold more than that in the cell lysates, likely because some cellular Lys-63 ubiquitin conjugates are sequestered by Lys-63 chain-specific binding proteins. In vitro, Lys-48 and Lys-63 ubiquitin chains bind the 26 S proteasome comparably, whereas Lys-63 chains are deubiquitinated 6-fold faster than Lys-48 chains. Also, Lys-63 tetraubiquitin-conjugated UbcH10 is rapidly deubiquitinated into the monoubiquitinated form, whereas Lys-48 tetraubiquitin targets UbcH10 for degradation. Furthermore, we found that both the ubiquitin aldehyde- and 1,10-phenanthroline-sensitive deubiquitinating activities of the 26 S proteasome contribute to Lys-48- and Lys-63-linkage deubiquitination, albeit the inhibitory extents are different. Together, our findings suggest that compared with Lys-48 chains, cellular Lys-63 chains have less proteasomal accessibility, and proteasome-bound Lys-63 chains are more rapidly deubiquitinated, which could cause inefficient degradation of Lys-63 conjugates.

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