Molecular mechanisms for activation of the 26S proteasome

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Various hormones, kinases, and stressors (fasting, heat shock) stimulate 26S proteasome activity. To understand how its capacity to degrade ubiquitylated protein can increase, we studied ZFAND5, which promotes protein degradation during muscle atrophy. Cryo-electron microscopy showed that ZFAND5 induces large conformational changes in the 19S regulatory particle. ZFAND5’s AN1 Zn finger interacts with the Rpt5 ATPase and its C-terminus with Rpt1 ATPase and Rpn1, a ubiquitin-binding subunit. Surprisingly, these C-terminal interactions are sufficient to activate proteolysis. With ZFAND5 bound, entry into the proteasome’s protein translocation channel is wider, and ZFAND5 dissociation causes opening of the 20S gate for substrate entry. Using single-molecular microscopy, we showed that ZFAND5 binds ubiquitylated substrates, prolongs their association with proteasomes, and increases the likelihood that bound substrates undergo degradation, even though ZFAND5 dissociates before substrate deubiquitylation. These changes in proteasome conformation and reaction cycle can explain the accelerated degradation and suggest how other proteasome activators may stimulate proteolysis.

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