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The proteasome is the main proteolytic system for targeted protein degradation in the cell. Its function is fine-tuned according to cellular needs. Regulation of proteasome function by mitochondrial metabolism, however, is unknown. Here, we demonstrate that mitochondrial dysfunction reduces the assembly and activity of the 26S proteasome in the absence of oxidative stress. Impaired respiratory complex I function leads to metabolic reprogramming of the Krebs cycle and deficiency in aspartate. Aspartate supplementation activates assembly and activity of 26S proteasomes via transcriptional activation of the proteasome assembly factors p28 and Rpn6. This metabolic adaptation of 26S proteasome function involves sensing of aspartate via the mTORC1 pathway. Metformin treatment of primary human cells similarly reduced assembly and activity of 26S proteasome complexes, which was rescued by supplementation of aspartate or pyruvate. Our study uncovers a fundamental novel mechanism of how mitochondrial metabolism adjusts protein degradation by the proteasome. It thus unravels unexpected consequences of defective mitochondrial metabolism in disease or drug-targeted mitochondrial reprogramming for proteasomal protein degradation in the cell. As metabolic inhibition of proteasome function can be alleviated by treatment with aspartate or pyruvate, our results will also have therapeutic implications.

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