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EMBO J. 1998 Sep 1;17(17):4909-19.

Active site mutants in the six regulatory particle ATPases reveal multiple roles for ATP in the proteasome.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, 240 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


A family of ATPases resides within the regulatory particle of the proteasome. These proteins (Rpt1-Rpt6) have been proposed to mediate substrate unfolding, which may be required for translocation of substrates through the channel that leads from the regulatory particle into the proteolytic core particle. To analyze the role of ATP hydrolysis in protein breakdown at the level of the individual ATPase, we have introduced equivalent site-directed mutations into the ATPbinding motif of each RPT gene. Non-conservative substitutions of the active-site lysine were lethal in four of six cases, and conferred a strong growth defect in two cases. Thus, the ATPases are not functionally redundant, despite their multiplicity and sequence similarity. Degradation of a specific substrate can be inhibited by ATP-binding-site substitutions in many of the Rpt proteins, indicating that they co-operate in the degradation of individual substrates. The phenotypic defects of the different rpt mutants were strikingly varied. The most divergent phenotype was that of the rpt1 mutant, which was strongly growth defective despite showing no general defect in protein turnover. In addition, rpt1 was unique among the rpt mutants in displaying a G1 cell-cycle defect. Proteasomes purified from an rpt2 mutant showed a dramatic inhibition of peptidase activity, suggesting a defect in gating of the proteasome channel. In summary, ATP promotes protein breakdown by the proteasome through multiple mechanisms, as reflected by the diverse phenotypes of the rpt mutants.

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