Eyal Reinstein, MD, PhD; Aaron Ciechanover, MD, DSc
Acknowledgments: Dr. Reinstein thanks Monty Krieger, PhD, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for his support and Tami Katzir, PhD, at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for her critical comments.
Grant Support: Research in Dr. Ciechanover's laboratory has been supported by a professorship from the Israel Cancer Research Fund USA and grants from the European Union; the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Israel; the Israel Science Foundation; and the Foundation for Promotion of Research in the Technion. Infrastructural equipment for Dr. Ciechanover's laboratory and for the Cancer and Vascular Biology Research Center was purchased with support from the Wolfson Charitable Fund.
Potential Financial Conflicts of Interest: None disclosed.
Requests for Single Reprints: Eyal Reinstein, MD, PhD, Department of Internal Medicine B, Meir General Hospital and the Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Kfar-Saba 95847, Israel; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current Author Addresses: Dr. Reinstein: Department of Internal Medicine B, Meir General Hospital and the Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Kfar-Saba 95847, Israel.
Dr. Ciechanover: Vascular and Cancer Biology Research Center, The Rappaport Faculty of Medicine and Research Institute, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 31096, Israel.
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 thesystem 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.
Eyal Reinstein, Aaron Ciechanover. Narrative Review: Protein Degradation and Human Diseases: The Ubiquitin Connection. Ann Intern Med. 2006;145:676–684. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-145-9-200611070-00010
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2006;145(9):676-684.
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