Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Proteasomes are large, unique protein complexes catalyzing energy- and ubiquitin-dependent proteolysis. Recent studies have revealed that these complexes are involved in two important cellular functions. One is to make antigen fragments for major histo-compatibility complex (MHC) class I-restricted antigen presentation and the other is to regulate the cell cycle by proteolysis. Here we review only the latter function of proteasomes. Proteasomes are widely distributed in eukaryotic cells, but their levels have been shown to be particularly high in various immature cells, such as cancerous, fetal and lymphoblastic cells, and agents inducing cell differentiation were found to suppress their expression. These conditions also regulate the expression of ubiquitin genes in a similar way, suggesting that proteasomes act ubiquitin-dependently in their 26S form in immature cells. High levels of proteasomes were found immunochemically in the nuclei of rapidly growing cells, indicating that proteasomes are important for eukaryotic cell growth. Indeed, gene disruptions of most subunits of proteasomes in yeast resulted in total suppression of cell growth and cell death. Short-lived regulatory factors of the cell cycle, such as Fos, p53, Mos, and cyclins are degraded by the proteasome-ubiquitin pathway under phosphorylated or dephosphorylated conditions. Ornithine decarboxylase, which is also a short-lived enzyme and is involved in the early phase of cell growth, is quickly degraded by proteasomes with antizyme, but without ubiquitination. Recently, we found that one of the regulatory factors of 26S proteasomes, p31, is a homologue of Ninlp, whose mutation caused inhibition of the cell cycle in yeast. These results indicate that proteasomes play important roles in regulation of the cell cycle in eukaryotes.
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