Protein accumulation has been identified as a characteristic of many degenerative conditions, such as neurodegenerative diseases and aging. In most cases, these conditions also present with diminished protein degradation. The ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) is responsible for the degradation of the majority of proteins in cells; however, the activity of the proteasome is reduced in these disease states, contributing to the accumulation of toxic protein. It has been hypothesized that proteasome activity, both ubiquitin-dependent and -independent, can be chemically stimulated to reduce the load of protein in diseased cells. Several methods exist to identify and characterize stimulators of proteasome activity. In this review, we detail the ways in which protease activity can be enhanced and analyze the biochemical and cellular methods of identifying stimulators of both the ubiquitin-dependent and -independent proteasome activities.
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