Regulated protein destruction by the proteasome is crucial for the maintenance of normal cellular homeostasis. Much of our understanding of proteasome function stems from the use of drugs that inhibit its activity. Curiously, despite the importance of proteasomal proteolysis, previous studies have found that proliferation of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is relatively resistant to the effects of proteasome inhibitors such as MG132, even in the presence of mutations that increase inhibitor levels in cells. We reasoned that part of the resistance of S. cerevisiae to proteasome inhibitors stems from the fact that most proteasome inhibitors preferentially target the chymotryptic activity of the proteasome, and that the caspase-like and tryptic sites within the 20S core could compensate for proteasome function under these conditions. To test this hypothesis, we generated a strain of yeast in which the gene encoding the drug efflux pump Pdr5 is deleted, and the tryptic and caspase-like proteasome activities are inactivated by mutation. We find that this strain has dramatically increased sensitivity to the proteasome inhibitor MG132. Under these conditions, treatment of yeast with MG132 blocks progression through the cell cycle, increases the accumulation of polyubiquitylated proteins and decreases the ability to induce transcription of certain genes. These results highlight the contribution of the caspase-like and tryptic activities of the proteasome to its function, and provide a strategy to potently block proteasomal proteolysis in yeast that has practical applications.
Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.