Acidic proteins tend to be degraded more rapidly than neutral or basic proteins in rat liver, skeletal muscle, kidney and brain and in mouse liver and skeletal muscle. We now report a similar relationship among soluble proteins from rat lung, heart and testes, and from human fibroblasts and mouse-embryo cells grown in culture. These findings indicate that the correlation between protein net charge and degradative rate is a general characteristic of intracellular protein degradation in mammals. This relationship between isoelectric point and half-life appears to be distinct from the previously reported correlation between subunit molecular weight and protein half-lives. The more rapid degradation of acidic proteins does not result from their being of larger molecular weight than neutral or basic proteins. Furthermore, proteins within specific isoelectric point ranges still exhibit a relationship between subunit size and half-life. Finally, a group of membrane or organelle-associated proteins that are insoluble in phosphate-buffered saline and water but soluble in 1% Triton X-100 exhibit a correlation between size and half-life, but not between net charge and half-life. The biochemical reasons for the relationship between protein isoelectric point and half-life are unclear, although several possible explanations are presented. It is not due to a greater sensitivity of acidic proteins to proteolytic attack since experiments with a variety of endoproteinases, including trypsin, chymotrypsin, Pronase, papain, chymopapain, Staphylococcus aureus V8 proteinase, pepsin and lysosomal cathepsins from rat liver, have failed to demonstrate more rapid digestion of acidic proteins.

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