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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2004 Nov 29;1695(1-3):19-31.

The proteasome: a proteolytic nanomachine of cell regulation and waste disposal.

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Institut für Biochemie, Universität Stuttgart, Pfaffenwaldring 55, 70569 Stuttgart, Germany.


The final destination of the majority of proteins that have to be selectively degraded in eukaryotic cells is the proteasome, a highly sophisticated nanomachine essential for life. 26S proteasomes select target proteins via their modification with polyubiquitin chains or, in rare cases, by the recognition of specific motifs. They are made up of different subcomplexes, a 20S core proteasome harboring the proteolytic active sites hidden within its barrel-like structure and two 19S caps that execute regulatory functions. Similar complexes equipped with PA28 regulators instead of 19S caps are a variation of this theme specialized for the production of antigenic peptides required in immune response. Structure analysis as well as extensive biochemical and genetic studies of the 26S proteasome and the ubiquitin system led to a basic model of substrate recognition and degradation. Recent work raised new concepts. Additional factors involved in substrate acquisition and delivery to the proteasome have been discovered. Moreover, first insights in the tasks of individual subunits or subcomplexes of the 19S caps in substrate recognition and binding as well as release and recycling of polyubiquitin tags have been obtained.

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