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Dev Biol. 1995 Jun;169(2):436-47.

Changes in the structure and function of the multicatalytic proteinase (proteasome) during programmed cell death in the intersegmental muscles of the hawkmoth, Manduca sexta.

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Department of Biology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst 01003, USA.


The intersegmental muscles (ISMs) of the tobacco hawkmoth Manduca sexta are a well-characterized model system for examining the biochemical changes that accompany programmed cell death during development. These giant muscles die during a 30-hr period in response to a decline in the circulating titer of the insect molting hormone 20-hydroxyecdysone. When the ISMs become committed to die, there are dramatic increases in both ubiquitin expression and ubiquitin-dependent proteolysis. Since the multicatalytic proteinase (MCP) is responsible for ATP/ubiquitin-dependent proteolysis in cells, we examined its composition and properties. The purified enzyme from whole larval integumentary tissues resembles MCPs isolated from other species with respect to subunit composition and general catalytic properties. However, when MCP was isolated from condemned ISMs, we observed an approximately ninefold increase in proteinase activity compared to MCP from precommitment muscles. This increase in proteolytic activity was correlated with an approximately eightfold increase in the absolute amounts of MCP protein as determined by Western blotting and densitometry. When purified MCP from condemned muscles was examined by two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, four new subunits that were not detected in the precommitment muscles were present. Correlated with the addition of these new subunits was a dramatic increase in the levels of immunodetectable MCP throughout the cytoplasm and within the nuclei of dying muscles. These changes in MCP were regulated by the same hormonal signals that mediate cell death. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that when the ISMs become committed to die, more MCP accumulates in cells and new subunits are synthesized that change both the enzymatic properties and the conformation of MCP, which in turn participates in the dramatic proteolysis that accompanies cell death.

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