The proteasome is an abundant protease that is critically important for numerous cellular pathways. Proteasomes are activated in vitro by three known classes of proteins/complexes, including Blm10/PA200. Here, we report a 3.4 A resolution crystal structure of a proteasome-Blm10 complex, which reveals that Blm10 surrounds the proteasome entry pore in the 1.2 MDa complex to form a largely closed dome that is expected to restrict access of potential substrates. This architecture and the observation that Blm10 induces a disordered proteasome gate structure challenge the assumption that Blm10 functions as an activator of proteolysis in vivo. The Blm10 C terminus binds in the same manner as seen for 11S activators and inferred for 19S/PAN activators and indicates a unified model for gate opening. We also demonstrate that Blm10 acts to maintain mitochondrial function. Consistent with the structural data, the C-terminal residues of Blm10 are needed for this activity.
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