Tracing the history of the ubiquitin proteolytic system: The pioneering article

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28 Scopus citations


A series of findings made by several researchers during a two-decade period between the mid-1950s and mid-1970s raised the suspicion that the lysosome might not be the organelle that degrades the bulk of cellular proteins under basal conditions. These findings predicted the existence of a nonlysosomal, adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-dependent proteolytic system. Yet, following the initial discovery of such activity in a crude cell extract, it was a single article published in this journal [A. Ciechanover, Y. Hod, A. Hershko, A heat-stable polypeptide component of an ATP-dependent proteolytic system from reticulocytes, Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 81 (1978) 1100-1105], my first study as a graduate student of Avram Hershko, that made it clear that the system that catalyzes the activity is novel and complex, and does not follow the paradigm in the field of proteolysis where a single protease typically cleaves its substrate; here at least two components were required to carry out this activity, and one of them was an unusual, small, and heat-stable protein later identified as ubiquitin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 11 Sep 2009


  • ATP
  • Conjugation
  • Proteasome
  • Proteolysis
  • Ubiquitin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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