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J Neurochem. 2011 Apr;117(1):143-53. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2011.07182.x. Epub 2011 Feb 9.

Decreased activity of the 20S proteasome in the brain white matter and gray matter of patients with multiple sclerosis.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, University of New Mexico, Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.


Carbonylated (oxidized) proteins are known to accumulate in the cerebral white matter (WM) and gray matter (GM) of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Although oxidative stress is necessary for carbonyl generation, it is the failure of the degradation systems that ultimately leads to the build-up of carbonylated proteins within tissues. In this study, we measured the activity of the 20S proteasome and other proteolytic systems in the cerebral WM and GM of 13 MS patients and 13 controls. We report that the activities of the three peptidases of the 20S proteasome (i.e. chymotrypsin-like, caspase-like and trypsin-like) in both MS-WM and MS-GM are greatly reduced. Interestingly, neither the amount of proteasome nor the levels of the catalytic subunits (β1, β2, and β5) are diminished in this disease. Proteins containing Lys-48 poly-ubiquitin also accumulate in MS tissues, indicating failure of the 26S proteasome as well. Levels of the regulatory caps 11S α and 19S are also lower in MS than in controls, suggesting that the activity of the more complex proteasomes may be reduced further. Finally, the activities of other proteases that might also remove oxidized proteins (calpain, cathepsin B, mitochondrial LonP) are not lessened in MS. Together, these studies suggest that direct inactivation of proteolytic centers in the 20S particle and/or the presence of specific inhibitors is the underlying cause of proteasomal dysfunction in MS.

© 2011 The Authors. Journal of Neurochemistry © 2011 International Society for Neurochemistry.

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