Two distinct pathways for cyclooxygenase-2 protein degradation

Uri R. Mbonye, Chong Yuan, Clair E. Harris, Ranjinder S. Sidhu, Inseok Song, Toshiya Arakawa, William L. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Cyclooxygenases (COX-1 and COX-2) are N-glycosylated, endoplasmic reticulum-resident, integral membrane proteins that catalyze the committed step in prostanoid synthesis. COX-1 is constitutively expressed in many types of cells, whereas COX-2 is usually expressed inducibly and transiently. The control of COX-2 protein expression occurs at several levels, and overexpression of COX-2 is associated with pathologies such as colon cancer. Here we have investigated COX-2 protein degradation and demonstrate that it can occur through two independent pathways. One pathway is initiated by post-translational N-glycosylation at Asn-594. The N-glycosyl group is then processed, and the protein is translocated to the cytoplasm, where it undergoes proteasomal degradation. We provide evidence from site-directed mutagenesis that a 27-amino acid instability motif (27-IM) regulates posttranslational N-glycosylation of Asn-594. This motif begins with Glu-586 8 residues upstream of the N-glycosylation site and ends with Lys-612 near the C terminus at Leu-618. Key elements of the 27-IM include a helix involving residues Glu-586 to Ser-596 with Asn-594 near the end of this helix and residues Leu-610 and Leu-611, which are located in an apparently unstructured downstream region of the 27-IM. The last 16 residues of the 27-IM, including Leu-610 and Leu-611, appear to promote N-glycosylation of Asn-594 perhaps by causing this residue to become exposed to appropriate glycosyl transferases. A second pathway for COX-2 protein degradation is initiated by substrate-dependent suicide inactivation. Suicide-inactivated protein is then degraded. The biochemical steps have not been resolved, but substrate-dependent degradation is not inhibited by proteasome inhibitors or inhibitors of lysosomal proteases. The pathway involving the 27-IM occurs at a constant rate, whereas degradation through the substrate-dependent process is coupled to the rate of substrate turnover.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8611-8623
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number13
StatePublished - 28 Mar 2008


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