The giant proteolytic factory called the proteasome came a long way from a biochemical curio to a major regulator of cellular
physiology and a renowned drug target within the ubiquitin proteasome pathway (UPP). Thanks to availability of highly specific inhibitors
of the proteasome, in less than twenty years it was possible to identify major transcription factors, cyclins, and products of oncogenes
as crucial substrates for the UPP. Nine years passed since the FDA speedily approved bortezomib, the inhibitor of proteasome, for treatment
of multiple myeloma. One year after its approval, the field was honored by awarding the Nobel Prize to Hershko, Ciechanover and
Rose for introducing the concept of controlled proteolysis of ubiquitin-tagged substrates, with proteasome as the intracellular recycling
facility. Taking into consideration the universal involvement of the proteasome in the life of all cells in human body, it comes to no surprise
that the enzyme is deeply implicated in etiology, progression, diagnosis or cure of multiple diseases. Below we discuss some aspects
of the involvement: from direct causative links to changes in proteasome properties that correlate with pathological conditions. We
start with diseases collectively known as cancer, and with immune system-related pathologies. Here, the proteasome inhibitors are either
already used in clinics, or undergo advanced preclinical screening. Then, we will continue with cardiovascular disorders, followed by aging.
Changes of the proteasome make-up during aging may be a priming factor for neurodegenerative diseases, described last. We discuss
the potential for proteasome regulation: inhibition, activation or specificity modulation, to successfully enter the clinical setting.