Ubiquitin-proteasome system and autophagy are the two major mechanisms for protein degradation in eukaryotic cells. LC3, a ubiquitin-like protein, plays an essential role in autophagy through its ability to be conjugated to phosphatidylethanolamine. In this study, we discovered a novel LC3-processing activity, and biochemically purified the 20S proteasome as the responsible enzyme. Processing of LC3 by the 20S proteasome is ATP- and ubiquitin-independent, and requires both the N-terminal helices and the ubiquitin fold of LC3; addition of the N-terminal helices of LC3 to the N terminus of ubiquitin renders ubiquitin susceptible to 20S proteasomal activity. Further, the 20S proteasome processes LC3 in a stepwise manner, it first cleaves LC3 within its ubiquitin fold and thus disrupts the conjugation function of LC3; subsequently and especially at high concentrations of the proteasome, LC3 is completely degraded. Intriguingly, proteolysis of LC3 by the 20S proteasome can be inhibited by p62, an LC3-binding protein that mediates autophagic degradation of polyubiquitin aggregates in cells. Therefore, our study implicates a potential mechanism underlying interplay between the proteasomal and autophagic pathways. This study also provides biochemical evidence suggesting relevance of the controversial ubiquitin-independent proteolytic activity of the 20S proteasome.
SciCrunch is a data sharing and display platform. Anyone can create a custom portal where they can select searchable subsets of hundreds of data sources, brand their web pages and create their community. SciCrunch will push data updates automatically to all portals on a weekly basis. User communities can also add their own data to scicrunch, however this is not currently a free service.