PerspectiveCell Biology

Local synthesis and disposal

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Science  07 Nov 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6210, pp. 701-702
DOI: 10.1126/science.1261602

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Most cells in our body have functionally specialized regions containing distinct sets of proteins. The evolution of this complexity from prokaryotic ancestors relied on the capacity to generate, sustain, and regulate subcellular compartments. At least part of this specialization exploited the ability to synthesize and degrade subsets of proteins in restricted areas of the cell. For example, neurons change the responsiveness of individual synapses during learning by controlling local protein production and degradation (1). Discovering and analyzing such local pathways amid parallel general pathways has posed a substantial challenge. On pages 751, 716, and 748 of this issue, Foresti et al. (2), Jan et al. (3), and Williams et al. (4), respectively, make progress toward this aim by applying powerful whole-proteome analyses in a yeast model, discovering a new pathway for localized protein degradation (2) and providing unprecedented views of all protein synthesis occurring at particular organelles (3, 4). The findings may guide the study of region-specific reactions in morphologically complex metazoan organisms.