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J Mol Biol. 1993 Dec 20;234(4):932-7.

Structural features of the 26 S proteasome complex.

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


Proteasomes play a key role in the degradation of abnormal proteins, of short-lived regulatory proteins and in antigen processing. Evidence is accumulating that the 20 S proteasome represents the proteolytic core of the 26 S protease complex (26 S proteasome) which contains several additional subunits implicated in regulation and substrate recognition. Using electron microscopy and digital image analysis we obtained first insights into the structure of this complex which has an estimated molecular weight of approximately 2000 kDa. Two highly asymmetric masses which presumably contain the regulatory subunits of the 26 S complex are attached to both ends of the dimeric 20 S proteasome clearly reflecting its C2 symmetry. The structural uniformity of the complex, i.e. the absence of significant inter-image variations, has important implications for the structure of the latter: It indicates that, in spite of their sequence similarities, the various alpha-type and beta-type subunits of the 20 S proteasome are not promiscuous but occupy precisely defined positions.

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