Background: Regulated proteolysis by the proteasome is crucial for a broad array of cellular processes, from control of the cell cycle to production of antigens.
Results: The rules governing the N-terminal primary and extended substrate specificity of the human 20S proteasome in the presence or absence of 11S proteasome activators (REGalpha/beta and REGgamma) have been elaborated using activity-based proteomic library tools.
Conclusions: The 11S proteasome activators are shown to be important for both increasing the activity of the 20S proteasome and for altering its cleavage pattern and substrate specificity. These data also establish that the extended substrate specificity is an important factor for proteasomal cleavage. The specificities observed have features in common with major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I ligands and can be used to improve the prediction of MHC class I restricted cytotoxic T-cell responses.