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Trends Cell Biol. 2004 Mar;14(3):103-6.

N-terminal ubiquitination: more protein substrates join in.

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Department of Biochemistry and the Rappaport Family Institute for Research in the Medical Sciences, the Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 31096, Israel.


The ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) is involved in selective targeting of innumerable cellular proteins through a complex pathway that plays important roles in a broad array of processes. An important step in the proteolytic cascade is specific recognition of the substrate by one of many ubiquitin ligases, E3s, which is followed by generation of the polyubiquitin degradation signal. For most substrates, it is believed that the first ubiquitin moiety is conjugated, through its C-terminal Gly76 residue, to an sigma-NH2 group of an internal Lys residue. Recent findings indicate that, for several proteins, the first ubiquitin moiety is fused linearly to the alpha-NH2 group of the N-terminal residue. An important biological question relates to the evolutionary requirement for an alternative mode of ubiquitination.

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