Two papers published in 1984 by the Varshavsky laboratory revealed that the ubiquitin/proteasome pathway is the principal system for degradation of short-lived proteins in mammalian cells, setting the stage for future demonstrations of this pathway's many regulatory roles. This perspective discusses the impact of those papers and highlights some of the subsequent insights that have led to our current appreciation of the breadth of ubiquitin-mediated signaling.
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