Ubiquitin and proteasomes in transcription

Annu Rev Biochem. 2012;81:177-201. doi: 10.1146/annurev-biochem-052110-120012. Epub 2012 Mar 8.


Regulation of gene transcription is vitally important for the maintenance of normal cellular homeostasis. Failure to correctly regulate gene expression, or to deal with problems that arise during the transcription process, can lead to cellular catastrophe and disease. One of the ways cells cope with the challenges of transcription is by making extensive use of the proteolytic and nonproteolytic activities of the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS). Here, we review recent evidence showing deep mechanistic connections between the transcription and ubiquitin-proteasome systems. Our goal is to leave the reader with a sense that just about every step in transcription-from transcription initiation through to export of mRNA from the nucleus-is influenced by the UPS and that all major arms of the system--from the first step in ubiquitin (Ub) conjugation through to the proteasome-are recruited into transcriptional processes to provide regulation, directionality, and deconstructive power.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex / metabolism*
  • Proteolysis*
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Transcription, Genetic*
  • Ubiquitination*


  • Transcription Factors
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex