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Review
, 145 (9), 676-84

Narrative Review: Protein Degradation and Human Diseases: The Ubiquitin Connection

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Review

Narrative Review: Protein Degradation and Human Diseases: The Ubiquitin Connection

Eyal Reinstein et al. Ann Intern Med.

Abstract

Between the 1950s and 1980s, many scientists focused on the process by which the genetic code is translated into proteome. However, little attention was devoted to the mechanism responsible for protein degradation. When researchers discovered the organelle lysosome, they assumed that cellular proteins were degraded within it. However, several independent lines of evidence strongly suggested that intracellular proteolysis was largely nonlysosomal. The discovery of the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS) resolved this enigma. It is now recognized that degradation of intracellular proteins by the UPS is involved in the regulation of a broad array of cellular processes, including cell-cycle division; DNA repair, growth, and differentiation; quality control; and regulation of membrane receptors and ion channels. Not surprisingly, aberrations in the system have been implicated in the pathogenesis of numerous human diseases, and it seems that pharmacologic manipulation of the UPS might alter the outcome of many diseases, especially malignant conditions and possibly neurodegenerative and chronic inflammatory diseases. These findings have led to increasing efforts to develop mechanism-based drugs that modulate UPS activity, one of which is already on the market. In the near future, one can expect to see the development of new, potent, and highly specific drugs that target the degradation pathways of a single or a few proteins without affecting other proteins.

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