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Protein Sci. 2011 Aug;20(8):1298-345. doi: 10.1002/pro.666.

The N-end rule pathway and regulation by proteolysis.

Author information

1
1Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125. avarsh@caltech.edu.

Abstract

The N-end rule relates the regulation of the in vivo half-life of a protein to the identity of its N-terminal residue. Degradation signals (degrons) that are targeted by the N-end rule pathway include a set called N-degrons. The main determinant of an N-degron is a destabilizing N-terminal residue of a protein. In eukaryotes, the N-end rule pathway is a part of the ubiquitin system and consists of two branches, the Ac/N-end rule and the Arg/N-end rule pathways. The Ac/N-end rule pathway targets proteins containing N(α) -terminally acetylated (Nt-acetylated) residues. The Arg/N-end rule pathway recognizes unacetylated N-terminal residues and involves N-terminal arginylation. Together, these branches target for degradation a majority of cellular proteins. For example, more than 80% of human proteins are cotranslationally Nt-acetylated. Thus most proteins harbor a specific degradation signal, termed (Ac)N-degron, from the moment of their birth. Specific N-end rule pathways are also present in prokaryotes and in mitochondria. Enzymes that produce N-degrons include methionine-aminopeptidases, caspases, calpains, Nt-acetylases, Nt-amidases, arginyl-transferases and leucyl-transferases. Regulated degradation of specific proteins by the N-end rule pathway mediates a legion of physiological functions, including the sensing of heme, oxygen, and nitric oxide; selective elimination of misfolded proteins; the regulation of DNA repair, segregation and condensation; the signaling by G proteins; the regulation of peptide import, fat metabolism, viral and bacterial infections, apoptosis, meiosis, spermatogenesis, neurogenesis, and cardiovascular development; and the functioning of adult organs, including the pancreas and the brain. Discovered 25 years ago, this pathway continues to be a fount of biological insights.

PMID:
21633985
PMCID:
PMC3189519
DOI:
10.1002/pro.666
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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