Ubiquitin signaling in neurodegenerative diseases: an autophagy and proteasome perspective

Cell Death Differ. 2021 Feb;28(2):439-454. doi: 10.1038/s41418-020-00667-x. Epub 2020 Nov 18.


Ubiquitin signaling is a sequence of events driving the fate of a protein based on the type of ubiquitin modifications attached. In the case of neurodegenerative diseases, ubiquitin signaling is mainly associated with degradation signals to process aberrant proteins, which form aggregates often fatal for the brain cells. This signaling is often perturbed by the aggregates themselves and leads to the accumulation of toxic aggregates and inclusion bodies that are deleterious due to a toxic gain of function. Decrease in quality control pathways is often seen with age and is a critical onset for the development of neurodegeneration. Many aggregates are now thought to propagate in a prion-like manner, where mutated proteins acting like seeds are transitioning from cell to cell, converting normal proteins to toxic aggregates. Modulation of ubiquitin signaling, by stimulating ubiquitin ligase activation, is a potential therapeutic strategy to treat patients with neurodegeneration diseases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex / metabolism
  • Protein Folding
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Ubiquitin / metabolism*
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / metabolism
  • Ubiquitination


  • Ubiquitin
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex