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Published 1985 | public
Journal Article

Mammalian cell cycle mutant defective in intracellular protein degradation and ubiquitin-protein conjugation


Ubiquitin, a 76 residue protein, occurs in eukaryotic cells either free or covalently joined via its carboxyl terminus to epsilon-amino groups of lysine residues in a wide variety of protein species. Previous work has shown that ubiquitin-protein conjugates are preferred substrates in vitro for a non-lysosomal ATP-dependent proteolytic pathway, suggesting that ubiquitin may function as a signal for attack by proteinases specific for ubiquitin-protein conjugates. One strategy to define the potential significance of the ubiquitin-dependent proteolytic pathway is to identify conditional mutants in the pathway. ts85 is a mouse derived cell-cycle mutant which has been shown to lose uH2A, a specific ubiquitin-histone H2A conjugate, at the nonpermissive temperature. We show that the loss of uH2A from ts85 cells is due to reduced ubiquitin-protein conjugation. We further show that the reduced conjugation is due to the specific thermolability of ubiquitin activating enzyme, E1, one of the three enzymic components of the ubiquitin-protein ligase system. We therefore proceeded to test whether the degradation of short-lived proteins is also temperature-sensitive in ts85 cells. Indeed, while more than 70% of the prelabeled abnormal (amino acid analog-containing) proteins or puromycyl peptides are degraded within 4 hours at the permissive temperature in the mutant (ts85), wild type (FM3A), and revertant (ts85R-MN3) cells, less than 15% of these proteins are degraded in ts85 cells at the nonpermissive temperature. In contrast, the rate of degradation of these proteins does not change significantly in either wild-type or revertant cells between permissive and nonpermissive temperatures. Degradation of normal short-lived proteins is also specifically temperature-sensitive in ts85 cells. Immunochemical analysis shows a strong and specific reduction in ubiquitin-protein conjugate levels in vivo at the nonpermissive temperature in ts85 cells. Taken together, our in vitro and in vivo findings with ts85 cells demonstrate that the degradation of the bulk of short-lived proteins in this higher eukaryotic cell is accomplished through a ubiquitin-mediated pathway.

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August 19, 2023
October 20, 2023