Selectivity of the ubiquitin pathway for oxidatively modified proteins: relevance to protein precipitation diseases

FASEB J. 2005 Oct;19(12):1707-9. doi: 10.1096/fj.05-4049fje. Epub 2005 Aug 12.


There is now consensus that the accumulation of oxidatively modified proteins is cytotoxic and causally related to several age-related diseases, including the amyloid diseases and age-related cataracts. There is also general agreement that proteolytic pathways provide a quality control mechanism to limit accumulation of damaged proteins. Although many researchers assume that the ubiquitin pathway is involved in recognition and proteolytic removal of oxidatively modified proteins, which are produced upon cellular stress, there has been no direct evidence to support this hypothesis. In this work, we used a novel proteolysis-resistant ubiquitin variant to demonstrate that ubiquitin conjugates isolated from oxidatively stressed mammalian cells are enriched 3.3-15-fold for oxidatively modified proteins and that failure to execute ubiquitin-dependent proteolysis renders various cell types more susceptible to oxidative stress-related cytotoxicity. These results were corroborated using several inhibitors of the ubiquitin proteasome pathway, including PS-341, an anticancer drug in clinical use. Taken together the data indicate that the ubiquitin proteolytic pathway recognizes and removes oxidatively modified proteins, and that failure of this system, as occurs upon aging or stress, may be involved in and exacerbate cytotoxicity and age-related syndromes in which accumulation of ubiquitinated and oxidatively modified proteins has an etiologic role.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / genetics
  • Amyloid / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • COS Cells
  • Cataract / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases / chemistry
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / chemistry
  • Models, Biological
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Oxygen / chemistry
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex / chemistry
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex / metabolism
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Rabbits
  • Time Factors
  • Ubiquitin / chemistry*
  • Ubiquitin / metabolism
  • Ubiquitins / chemistry


  • Amyloid
  • Ubiquitin
  • Ubiquitins
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex
  • Oxygen