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Bioessays. 2006 Aug;28(8):844-9.

20S proteasomes and protein degradation "by default".

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.


The degradation of the majority of cellular proteins is mediated by the proteasomes. Ubiquitin-dependent proteasomal protein degradation is executed by a number of enzymes that interact to modify the substrates prior to their engagement with the 26S proteasomes. Alternatively, certain proteins are inherently unstable and undergo "default" degradation by the 20S proteasomes. Puzzlingly, proteins are by large subjected to both degradation pathways. Proteins with unstructured regions have been found to be substrates of the 20S proteasomes in vitro and, therefore, unstructured regions may serve as signals for protein degradation "by default" in the cell. The literature is loaded with examples where engagement of a protein into larger complexes increases protein stability, possibly by escaping degradation "by default". Our model suggests that formation of protein complexes masks the unstructured regions, making them inaccessible to the 20S proteasomes. This model not only provides molecular explanations for a recent theoretical "cooperative stability" principle, but also provokes new predictions and explanations in the field of protein regulation and functionality.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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