Eukaryotic cells respond to stress through adaptive programs that include reversible shutdown of key cellular processes, the formation of stress granules, and a global increase in ubiquitination. The primary function of this ubiquitination is thought to be for tagging damaged or misfolded proteins for degradation. Here, working in mammalian cultured cells, we found that different stresses elicited distinct ubiquitination patterns. For heat stress, ubiquitination targeted specific proteins associated with cellular activities that are down-regulated during stress, including nucleocytoplasmic transport and translation, as well as stress granule constituents. Ubiquitination was not required for the shutdown of these processes or for stress granule formation but was essential for the resumption of cellular activities and for stress granule disassembly. Thus, stress-induced ubiquitination primes the cell for recovery after heat stress.
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