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Open Access Publications from the University of California

How is the balance between protein synthesis and degradation achieved?

  • Author(s): Rothman, Stephen
  • et al.

Abstract Unlike most substances that cells manufacture, proteins are not produced and broken down by a common series of chemical reactions, but by completely different (independent and disconnected) mechanisms that possess no intrinsic means of making the rates of the two processes equal and attaining steady state concentrations. Balance between them is achieved extrinsically and is often imagined today to be the result of the actions of chemical feedback agents. But however instantiated, chemical feedback or any similar mechanism can only rectify induced imbalances in a system previously balanced by other means. Those "other means" necessarily involve reversible mass action or equilibrium-based interactions between native and altered forms of protein molecules somewhere in time and space between their synthesis and degradation.

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