The Proteasome and Ageing

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Subcellular Biochemistry


The proteasome is a multi-subunit proteolytic complex that functions to degrade normal proteins for physiological regulation and to eliminate abnormal proteins for cellular protection. Generally, the proteasome targets substrate proteins that are marked by attachment of multiple ubiquitin molecules. In various types of cells in an organism, damage to proteins occurs both from internal sources such as reactive oxygen species and from external ones such as UV radiation from the sun. The proteasome functions to protect the cells by degrading damaged proteins. With ageing, however, the capacity of the proteasome to degrade damaged proteins is reduced as indicated by evidence gathered by many studies. Studies on ageing in muscle, skin, and brain show that with age catalytic activity of the proteasome is decreased and the expression of proteasome subunits is altered. Age-related accumulation of damaged or misfolded proteins causes further reduction of proteasome activity. Abnormal proteins also accumulate as a result of age-related neurodegenerative diseases. Deficits in proteasome activity might be responsible for accumulation of protein aggregates and thus contribute to the pathology. Results from several studies suggest a link between the proteasome and longevity. This chapter reviews the various ways in which the proteasome is associated with the ageing process and examines evidence gathered from investigations on cultured cells, model organisms, and humans.


Biological and Environmental Sciences

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