The role of the ubiquitin proteasome system in ischemia and ischemic tolerance

Neuroscientist. 2009 Jun;15(3):243-60. doi: 10.1177/1073858408327809. Epub 2009 Jan 30.


Ubiquitin modification targets a protein for rapid degradation by the proteasome. However, polyubiquitination of proteins can result in multiple functions depending on the topology of the ubiquitin chain. Therefore, ubiquitin signaling offers a more complex and versatile biology compared with many other posttranslational modifications. One area of potential for the application of this knowledge is the field of ischemia-induced brain damage, as occurs following a stroke. The ubiquitin proteasome system may exert a dual role on neuronal outcome following ischemia. Harmful ischemia results in an overload of the ubiquitin proteasome system, and blocking the proteasome reduces brain infarction following ischemia. However, the rapid and selective degradation of proteins following brief ischemia results in endogenous protection against ischemia. Therefore, further understanding of the molecular signaling mechanisms that regulate the ubiquitin proteasome system may reveal novel therapeutic targets to reduce brain damage when ischemia is predicted or reduce the activation of the cell death mechanisms and the inflammatory response following stroke. The aim of this review is to discuss some of the recent advances in the understanding of protein ubiquitination and its implications for novel stroke therapies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / blood supply*
  • Brain / enzymology
  • Brain / pathology
  • Humans
  • Ischemia / metabolism*
  • Ischemic Preconditioning*
  • Models, Biological
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex / genetics
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex / metabolism*
  • Ubiquitin / chemistry
  • Ubiquitin / genetics
  • Ubiquitin / metabolism*


  • Ubiquitin
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex