In the ubiquitin-proteasome system, substrates fated for destruction first acquire covalent modification by ubiquitin, and are subsequently destroyed by the proteasome. Traditionally, 26S proteasomes have been seen as largely uniform in their composition and functional capacity. Accordingly, cells can control proteasome abundance via transcriptional pathways that mediate concerted regulation of all known proteasome genes. However, recent evidence suggests that the proteasome is also subject to subunit-specific modes of regulation, which serve to alter proteasome function and may generate ensembles of compositionally distinct proteasomes. These modes of proteasome regulation provide varied means to adapt protein degradation pathways to changing conditions in the cell. © 2007 Federation of European Biochemical Societies.
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