Understanding the mechanism of proteasome 20S core particle gating

Michael P. Latham, Ashok Sekhar, Lewis E. Kay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


The 20S core particle proteasome is a molecular machine playing an important role in cellular function by degrading protein substrates that no longer are required or that have become damaged. Regulation of proteasome activity occurs, in part, through a gating mechanism controlling the sizes of pores at the top and bottom ends of the symmetric proteasome barrel and restricting access to catalytic sites sequestered in the lumen of the structure. Although atomic resolution models of both open and closed states of the proteasome have been elucidated, the mechanism by which gates exchange between these states remains to be understood. Here, this is investigated by usingmagnetization transfer NMR spectroscopy focusing on the 20S proteasome core particle from Thermoplasma acidophilum. We show from viscosity-dependent proteasome gating kinetics that frictional forces originating from random solvent motions are critical for driving the gating process. Notably, a small effective hydrodynamic radius (EHR; <4̊) is obtained, providing a picture in which gate exchange proceeds through many steps involving only very small segment sizes. A small EHR further suggests that the kinetics of gate interconversion will not be affected appreciably by large viscogens, such as macromolecules found in the cell, so long as they are inert. Indeed,measurements in cell lysate reveal that the gate interconversion rate decreases only slightly, demonstrating that controlled studies in vitro provide an excellent starting point for understanding regulation of 20S core particle function in complex, biologically relevant environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5532-5537
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 15 2014


  • 20S proteasome gating
  • Energy landscape
  • Internal friction
  • Magnetization exchange NMR spectroscopy


Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding the mechanism of proteasome 20S core particle gating'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this