First published September 11, 2018 - More info
The ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) degrades a protein molecule via two main steps: ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation. Extraproteasomal ubiquitin receptors are thought to couple the two steps but this proposition has not been tested in vivo with vertebrate animals. More importantly, impaired UPS performance plays a major role in cardiac pathogenesis including myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) but the molecular basis of the UPS impairment remains poorly understood. Ubiquilin1 is a bona fide extra-proteasomal ubiquitin receptor. Here we report that cardiomyocyte-restricted knockout of Ubiquilin1 (Ubqln1-CKO) in mice accumulated a surrogate UPS substrate (GFPdgn) and increased myocardial ubiquitinated proteins without altering proteasome activities, and resulted in a late-onset cardiomyopathy and a significantly shortened lifespan. When subject to regional myocardial ischemia-reperfusion, young Ubqln1-CKO mice showed significantly exacerbated cardiac malfunction and enlarged infarct size and, conversely, mice with transgenic Ubqln1 overexpression displayed attenuated IRI. Furthermore, Ubqln1 overexpression facilitated proteasomal degradation of oxidized proteins and the degradation of a UPS surrogate substrate in cultured cardiomyocytes without increasing autophagic flux. These findings demonstrate that Ubiquilin1 is essential to cardiac ubiquitination-proteasome coupling and that an inadequacy in the coupling represents a major pathogenic factor to myocardial IRI, identifying strengthening the coupling as a potential strategy to reduce IRI.