[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The protein modifier ubiquitin is a signal for proteasome-mediated degradation in eukaryotes. Proteasome-bearing prokaryotes have been thought to degrade proteins via a ubiquitin-independent pathway. We have identified a prokaryotic ubiquitin-like protein, Pup (Rv2111c), which was specifically conjugated to proteasome substrates in the pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Pupylation occurred on lysines and required proteasome accessory factor A (PafA). In a pafA mutant, pupylated proteins were absent and substrates accumulated, thereby connecting pupylation with degradation. Although analogous to ubiquitylation, pupylation appears to proceed by a different chemistry. Thus, like eukaryotes, bacteria may use a small-protein modifier to control protein stability.