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J Biol Chem. 1985 Oct 5;260(22):11994-2000.

A soluble ATP-dependent system for protein degradation from murine erythroleukemia cells. Evidence for a protease which requires ATP hydrolysis but not ubiquitin.


A soluble ATP-dependent system for protein degradation has been demonstrated in reticulocyte lysates, but not in extracts of nucleated cells. We report that extracts of undifferentiated murine erythroleukemia (MEL) cells contain a labile ATP-stimulated proteolytic system. The addition of ATP to MEL cell extracts at alkaline pH enhances degradation of endogenous cell proteins and various radiolabeled exogenous polypeptides from 2-15-fold. Nonhydrolyzable ATP analogs had no effect. In reticulocytes, one role of ATP in proteolysis is for ubiquitin conjugation to protein substrates. MEL cells also contain ubiquitin and extracts can conjugate 125I-ubiquitin to cell proteins; however, this process in MEL cells seems unrelated to protein breakdown. After removal of ubiquitin from these extracts by DEAE- or gel chromatography, the stimulation of proteolysis by ATP was maintained and readdition of purified ubiquitin had no further effect. In addition, these extracts degraded in an ATP-dependent fashion casein whose amino groups were blocked and could not be conjugated to ubiquitin. After gel filtration or DEAE-chromatography of the MEL cell extracts (unlike those from reticulocytes), we isolated a high molecular weight (600,000) ATP-dependent proteolytic activity, which exhibits many of the properties of energy-dependent proteolysis seen in crude cell extracts. For example, both the protease and crude extracts are inhibited by hemin and N-ethylmaleimide and both hydrolyze casein, globin, and lysozyme rapidly and denatured albumin relatively slowly. The protease, like the crude extracts, is also stimulated by UTP, CTP, and GTP, although not as effectively as ATP. Also, nonhydrolyzable ATP analogs and pyrophosphate do not stimulate the protease. Thus, some mammalian cells contain a cytosolic proteolytic pathway that appears independent of ubiquitin and involves and ATP-dependent protease, probably similar to that found in Escherichia coli or mitochondria.

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