Determinants of nuclear and cytoplasmic ubiquitin-mediated degradation of MyoD

Jody M. Lingbeck, Julie S. Trausch-Azar, Aaron Ciechanover, Alan L. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


The ubiquitin-proteasome system is responsible for the regulation and turnover of many short-lived proteins both in the cytoplasm and in the nucleus. Degradation can occur via two distinct pathways, an N terminus-dependent pathway and a lysine-dependent pathway. The pathways are characterized by the site of initial ubiquitination of the protein, the N terminus or an internal lysine, respectively. MyoD, a basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor, is a substrate for the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway and is degraded in the nucleus. It is preferentially tagged for degradation on the N terminus and thus is degraded by the N terminus-dependent pathway. Addition of a 6× Myc tag to the N terminus of MyoD can force degradation through the lysine-dependent pathway by preventing ubiquitination at the N-terminal site. Modifications of the nuclear localization signal and nuclear export signal of MyoD restrict ubiquitination and degradation to the cytoplasm or the nucleus. Using these mutants, we determined which degradation pathway is dominant in the cytoplasm and the nucleus. Our results suggest that the lysine-dependent pathway is the more active pathway within the cytoplasm, whereas in the nucleus the two pathways are both active in protein degradation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1817-1823
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 17 2003


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