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J Biol Chem. 1994 Mar 11;269(10):7709-18.

Distinct 19 S and 20 S subcomplexes of the 26 S proteasome and their distribution in the nucleus and the cytoplasm.

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  • 1Division of Cell Biology, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg.


The 26 S proteolytic complex ("26 S proteasome") is a macromolecular assembly thought to be involved in ATP- and ubiquitin-dependent protein degradation in the cytoplasm of higher eukaryotic cells. This complex is composed of one 20 S cylinder particle (multicatalytic proteinase, 20 S proteasome) and two cap-shaped 19 S particles comprising a set of polypeptides in the M(r) range of 35,000-110,000. Here we show that cell supernatant fractions contain both these two subunit complexes as distinct particles as well as assembled to 26 S proteasomes. We have separated and purified all three forms from Xenopus laevis oocytes and have determined their peptidase and protease activities. Using various antibodies specific for either a constitutive p52 polypeptide of the 19 S cap complex or for proteins of the 20 S cylinder particle, we have immunolocalized these complexes in both the cytoplasm and the nucleus of diverse species and cell types. The occurrence of all three forms, the 26 S proteasome, the 20 S cylinder particle, and the 19 S cap complex in the nucleoplasm has also been demonstrated in analyses of isolated giant nuclei from Xenopus oocytes. In addition, we show that the 19 S and 20 S subcomplexes can be released from 26 S proteasomes by ATP depletion and that readdition of ATP to 19 S and 20 S particles in cell extracts leads to the reformation of 26 S proteasomes. We discuss that all three particles (19 S, 20 S, and 26 S) exist in a dynamic equilibrium in both cell compartments and serve cytoplasmic as well as nucleus-specific functions.

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