Proteasome inhibitors as anti-cancer agents.
Murray RZ., Norbury C.
The ubiquitin (Ub)-proteasome pathway is the major nonlysosomal pathway of proteolysis in human cells and accounts for the degradation of most short-lived, misfolded or damaged proteins. This pathway is important in the regulation of a number of key biological regulatory mechanisms. Proteins are usually targeted for proteasome-mediated degradation by polyubiquitinylation, the covalent addition of multiple units of the 76 amino acid protein Ub, which are ligated to 1-amino groups of lysine residues in the substrate. Polyubiquitinylated proteins are degraded by the 26S proteasome, a large, ATP-dependent multicatalytic protease complex, which also regenerates monomeric Ub. The targets of this pathway include key regulators of cell proliferation and cell death. An alternative form of the proteasome, termed the immunoproteasome, also has important functions in the generation of peptides for presentation by MHC class I molecules. In recent years there has been a great deal of interest in the possibility that proteasome inhibitors, through elevation of the levels of proteasome targets, might prove useful as a novel class of anti-cancer drugs. Here we review the progress made to date in this area and highlight the potential advantages and weaknesses of this approach.