The Ubiquitin Proteolytic System: From Basic Mechanisms thru Human Diseases and onto Drug Development

Being one of the major innovators of our generation, Prof. Aaron Ciechanover made a discovery that forever changed the scientific world. He researched the mechanism through which most living cells cull unwanted proteins, focusing primarily on the ubiquitin pathway. Named after the latin word ubique, meaning everywhere, ubiquitin is found in almost every living organism, thus being one of the most important discoveries of our times.

Before starting his research, Prof. Ciechanover noticed the lack of attention regarded to the mechanism through which cells degrade unusable proteins. Although it was already known that proteins have a high turn-over rate, the process was deemed a mystery. The answer was the complex cascade of the ubiquitin pathway. In short, ubiquitin attaches itself to a protein targeted for destruction. Then, it accompanies the aforementioned protein to a proteasome – a proteolytic enzyme filled formation which will then degrade the protein into amino acids. The proteins cannot enter the proteasome without being tied to ubiquitin, which is detached from the proteasome after this whole process and reused.


Aaron Ciechanover

Prof. Aaron Ciechanover is best known for his pioneering studies in the field of biochemistry, regarding ubiquitin‚Äźdirected protein degradation. He is the recipient of numerous awards, most notably the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2004 for discoveries concerning the cascade of the ubiquitin pathway.

He is currently a Technion Distinguished Research Professor in the Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine and Research Institute at the Technion, in Haifa, Israel. He is a member of multiple American and foreign academies of science, including the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), the German Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina), and the Institute of Medicine, National Academies of the USA.