Selective degradation of proteins requires a fine-tuned coordination of the two major proteolytic pathways, the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) and autophagy. Substrate selection and proteolytic activity are defined by a plethora of regulatory cofactors influencing each other. Both proteolytic pathways are initiated by ubiquitylation to mark substrate proteins for degradation, although the size and/or topology of the modification are different. In this context E3 ubiquitin ligases, ensuring the covalent attachment of activated ubiquitin to the substrate, are of special importance. The regulation of E3 ligase activity, competition between different E3 ligases for binding E2 conjugation enzymes and substrates, as well as their interplay with deubiquitylating enzymes (DUBs) represent key events in the cross talk between the UPS and autophagy. The coordination between both degradation routes is further influenced by heat shock factors and ubiquitin-binding proteins (UBPs) such as p97, p62, or optineurin. Mutations in enzymes and ubiquitin-binding proteins or a general decline of both proteolytic systems during aging result in accumulation of damaged and aggregated proteins. Thus further mechanistic understanding of how UPS and autophagy communicate might allow therapeutic intervention especially against age-related diseases.
↵* This review article is part of a Theme series: The Control of the Proteostasis Network in Health and Diseases.
- Copyright © 2016 the American Physiological Society