Occurrence of a polyubiquitin structure in ubiquitin-protein conjugates. Academic Article uri icon


  • In the ubiquitin-mediated pathway for the degradation of intracellular proteins, several molecules of ubiquitin are linked to the protein substrate by amide linkages. It was noted that the number of ubiquitin-protein conjugates and their apparent molecular size are higher than expected from the number of amino groups in the protein. When the amino groups of ubiquitin were blocked by reductive methylation, it was efficiently conjugated to lysozyme, but the higher-molecular-weight conjugates were not formed. This suggests that the higher-molecular-weight conjugates with native ubiquitin contain structures in which one molecule of ubiquitin is linked to an amino group of another molecule of ubiquitin. Methylated ubiquitin stimulated protein breakdown at about one half the rate obtained with native ubiquitin, and isolated conjugates of 125I-lysozyme with methylated ubiquitin were broken down by reticulocyte extracts. These findings indicate that the formation of polyubiquitin chains is not obligatory for protein breakdown, though it may accelerate the rate of this process.

publication date

  • May 16, 1985