Purification, characterization, and rapid inactivation of thermolabile ubiquitin-activating enzyme from the mammalian cell cycle mutant ts85

A. Mayer, R. Gropper, A. L. Schwartz, A. Ciechanover

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Conjugation of ubiquitin to certain proteins can trigger their degradation in the in vitro reticulocyte system. In order to determine whether ubiquitin conjugation serves as an intermediate step in the turnover of cellular proteins in vivo, it is necessary to isolate proteolytic intermediates, i.e. ubiquitin-protein adducts of specific cellular proteins. While the steady-state level of conjugates of rapidly turning over proteins is relatively high, that of long-lived proteins is presumably extremely low, and therefore undetectable. Therefore, mutant cell lines with conditionally altered function(s) of the ubiquitin system can serve as powerful tools in studying the degradation of stable cellular proteins. We have characterized a temperature sensitive cell cycle arrest mutant cell (ts85) with a thermolabile ubiquitin-activating enzyme (E1; Finley, D., Ciechanover, A., and Varshavsky, A. (1984) Cell 37, 43-55). Following incubation at the restrictive temperature (39.5°C), these cells fail to degrade short-lived proteins (Ciechanover, A., Finley, D., and Varshavsky, A. (1984) Cell 37, 57-66). However, involvement of the ubiquitin system in the turnover of long-lived proteins has not been addressed in these cells. A slow rate of inactivation of E1 in vivo, and significant rate of cell death following long incubation periods at the restrictive temperature, make this question difficult to address experimentally. In the present study we show that incubation of the cells for 1 h at 43°C leads to rapid inactivation of ubiquitin conjugation in the intact mutant cell. Following heat treatment, the cells can be incubated at 39.5°C for at least 6 h in order to study the possible involvement of the system in the turnover of long-lived cellular proteins. The viability of the cells is excellent at the end of the incubation. Following extraction, we have shown that inactivation occurs much more rapidly in the cell lysate in vitro than in the intact cell (t( 1/2 ) of 10 min compared to 4 h at 39.5°C). The enzyme from both the mutant cell and the wild-type cell was purified to homogeneity. The molecular mass of the native enzyme from both cells is approximately 220 kDa with a subunit molecular mass of about 108 kDa. The structure of the enzyme is therefore very similar to that purified from rabbit reticulocytes. At the permissive temperature, the enzymes from both cells catalyze ATP-PP(i) and ATP-AMP exchange in similar kinetics. However, at the high temperature, the mutated enzyme is at least 7-fold less stable than the wild-type enzyme. Independent assay of the activity of each of the two active sites demonstrates that both sites of the mutated enzyme are similarly affected at the restrictive temperature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2060-2068
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1989


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