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1.  Phosphorylation of Ser72 is dispensable for Skp2 assembly into an active SCF ubiquitin ligase and its subcellular localization 
Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.)  2010;9(5):971-974.
F-box proteins are the substrate recognition subunits of SCF (Skp1, Cul1, F-box protein) ubiquitin ligase complexes. Skp2 is a nuclear F-box protein that targets the CDK inhibitor p27 for ubiquitin- and proteasome-dependent degradation. In G0 and during the G1 phase of the cell cycle, Skp2 is degraded via the APC/CCdh1 ubiquitin ligase to allow stabilization of p27 and inhibition of CDKs, facilitating the maintenance of the G0/G1 state. APC/CCdh1 binds Skp2 through an N-terminal domain (amino acids 46–94 in human Skp2). It has been shown that phosphorylation of Ser64 and Ser72 in this domain dissociates Skp2 from APC/C. More recently, it has instead been proposed that phosphorylation of Skp2 on Ser72 by Akt/ PKB allows Skp2 binding to Skp1, promoting the assembly of an active SCFSkp2 ubiquitin ligase, and Skp2 relocalization/ retention into the cytoplasm, promoting cell migration via an unknown mechanism. According to these reports, a Skp2 mutant in which Ser72 is substituted with Ala is unable to promote cell proliferation and loses its oncogenic potential. Given the contrasting reports, we revisited these results and conclude that phosphorylation of Skp2 on Ser72 does not control Skp2 binding to Skp1 and Cul1, has no influence on SCFSkp2 ubiquitin ligase activity, and does not affect the subcellular localization of Skp2.
PMCID: PMC3827631  PMID: 20160477
Skp2; Akt; SCF; ubiquitin
2.  The SCFHOS/β-TRCP-ROC1 E3 Ubiquitin Ligase Utilizes Two Distinct Domains within CUL1 for Substrate Targeting and Ubiquitin Ligation 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2000;20(4):1382-1393.
We describe a purified ubiquitination system capable of rapidly catalyzing the covalent linkage of polyubiquitin chains onto a model substrate, phosphorylated IκBα. The initial ubiquitin transfer and subsequent polymerization steps of this reaction require the coordinated action of Cdc34 and the SCFHOS/β-TRCP-ROC1 E3 ligase complex, comprised of four subunits (Skp1, cullin 1 [CUL1], HOS/β-TRCP, and ROC1). Deletion analysis reveals that the N terminus of CUL1 is both necessary and sufficient for binding Skp1 but is devoid of ROC1-binding activity and, hence, is inactive in catalyzing ubiquitin ligation. Consistent with this, introduction of the N-terminal CUL1 polypeptide into cells blocks the tumor necrosis factor alpha-induced and SCF-mediated degradation of IκB by forming catalytically inactive complexes lacking ROC1. In contrast, the C terminus of CUL1 alone interacts with ROC1 through a region containing the cullin consensus domain, to form a complex fully active in supporting ubiquitin polymerization. These results suggest the mode of action of SCF-ROC1, where CUL1 serves as a dual-function molecule that recruits an F-box protein for substrate targeting through Skp1 at its N terminus, while the C terminus of CUL1 binds ROC1 to assemble a core ubiquitin ligase.
PMCID: PMC85290  PMID: 10648623
3.  Deconjugation of Nedd8 from Cul1 Is Directly Regulated by Skp1-F-box and Substrate, and the COP9 Signalosome Inhibits Deneddylated SCF by a Noncatalytic Mechanism* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2012;287(35):29679-29689.
Background: A detailed description of the kinetics of deneddylation of cullin by CSN has been lacking.
Results: Selected factors and SCF subunits are able to inhibit deneddylation to varying degrees. CSN interferes with SCF-mediated ubiquitination through a noncatalytic mechanism.
Conclusion: Deneddylation of Cul1 by CSN is regulated by F-box protein, substrate, and other factors.
Significance: Our work reported here could facilitate the development of directed therapies.
COP9 signalosome (CSN) mediates deconjugation of the ubiquitin-like protein Nedd8 from the cullin subunits of SCF and other cullin-RING ubiquitin ligases (CRLs). This process is essential to maintain the proper activity of CRLs in cells. Here, we report a detailed kinetic characterization of CSN-mediated deconjugation of Nedd8 from SCF. CSN is an efficient enzyme, with a kcat of ∼1 s−1 and Kmfor neddylated Cul1-Rbx1 of ∼200 nm, yielding a kcat/Km near the anticipated diffusion-controlled limit. Assembly with an F-box-Skp1 complex markedly inhibited deneddylation, although the magnitude varied considerably, with Fbw7-Skp1 inhibiting by ∼5-fold but Skp2-Cks1-Skp1 by only ∼15%. Deneddylation of both SCFFbw7 and SCFSkp2-Cks1 was further inhibited ∼2.5-fold by the addition of substrate. Combined, the inhibition by Fbw7-Skp1 plus its substrate cyclin E was greater than 10-fold. Unexpectedly, our results also uncover significant product inhibition by deconjugated Cul1, which results from the ability of Cul1 to bind tightly to CSN. Reciprocally, CSN inhibits the ubiquitin ligase activity of deneddylated Cul1. We propose a model in which assembled CRL complexes engaged with substrate are normally refractory to deneddylation. Upon consumption of substrate and subsequent deneddylation, CSN can remain stably bound to the CRL and hold it in low state of reduced activity.
PMCID: PMC3436198  PMID: 22767593
Analytical Biochemistry; Enzyme Kinetics; Protein Degradation; Protein-Protein Interactions; Ubiquitin Ligase; CSN; Cop9; Cul1; Nedd8; Deneddylation
4.  Mammalian DET1 Regulates Cul4A Activity and Forms Stable Complexes with E2 Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzymes▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2007;27(13):4708-4719.
DET1 (de-etiolated 1) is an essential negative regulator of plant light responses, and it is a component of the Arabidopsis thaliana CDD complex containing DDB1 and COP10 ubiquitin E2 variant. Human DET1 has recently been isolated as one of the DDB1- and Cul4A-associated factors, along with an array of WD40-containing substrate receptors of the Cul4A-DDB1 ubiquitin ligase. However, DET1 differs from conventional substrate receptors of cullin E3 ligases in both biochemical behavior and activity. Here we report that mammalian DET1 forms stable DDD-E2 complexes, consisting of DDB1, DDA1 (DET1, DDB1 associated 1), and a member of the UBE2E group of canonical ubiquitin-conjugating enzymes. DDD-E2 complexes interact with multiple ubiquitin E3 ligases. We show that the E2 component cannot maintain the ubiquitin thioester linkage once bound to the DDD core, rendering mammalian DDD-E2 equivalent to the Arabidopsis CDD complex. While free UBE2E-3 is active and able to enhance UbcH5/Cul4A activity, the DDD core specifically inhibits Cul4A-dependent polyubiquitin chain assembly in vitro. Overexpression of DET1 inhibits UV-induced CDT1 degradation in cultured cells. These findings demonstrate that the conserved DET1 complex modulates Cul4A functions by a novel mechanism.
PMCID: PMC1951502  PMID: 17452440
5.  Role of Individual Subunits of the Neurospora crassa CSN Complex in Regulation of Deneddylation and Stability of Cullin Proteins 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(12):e1001232.
The Cop9 signalosome (CSN) is an evolutionarily conserved multifunctional complex that controls ubiquitin-dependent protein degradation in eukaryotes. We found seven CSN subunits in Neurospora crassa in a previous study, but only one subunit, CSN-2, was functionally characterized. In this study, we created knockout mutants for the remaining individual CSN subunits in N. crassa. By phenotypic observation, we found that loss of CSN-1, CSN-2, CSN-4, CSN-5, CSN-6, or CSN-7 resulted in severe defects in growth, conidiation, and circadian rhythm; the defect severity was gene-dependent. Unexpectedly, CSN-3 knockout mutants displayed the same phenotype as wild-type N. crassa. Consistent with these phenotypic observations, deneddylation of cullin proteins in csn-1, csn-2, csn-4, csn-5, csn-6, or csn-7 mutants was dramatically impaired, while deletion of csn-3 did not cause any alteration in the neddylation/deneddylation state of cullins. We further demonstrated that CSN-1, CSN-2, CSN-4, CSN-5, CSN-6, and CSN-7, but not CSN-3, were essential for maintaining the stability of Cul1 in SCF complexes and Cul3 and BTB proteins in Cul3-BTB E3s, while five of the CSN subunits, but not CSN-3 and CSN-5, were also required for maintaining the stability of SKP-1 in SCF complexes. All seven CSN subunits were necessary for maintaining the stability of Cul4-DDB1 complexes. In addition, CSN-3 was also required for maintaining the stability of the CSN-2 subunit and FWD-1 in the SCFFWD-1 complex. Together, these results not only provide functional insights into the different roles of individual subunits in the CSN complex, but also establish a functional framework for understanding the multiple functions of the CSN complex in biological processes.
Author Summary
Protein degradation is precisely controlled in cells. The ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation pathway is highly conserved in eukaryotes, and the activity of ubiquitin ligases is regulated by the Cop9 signalosome (CSN), a multisubunit complex that is evolutionarily conserved from yeast to humans. Determining how the CSN complex functions biologically is crucial for understanding regulation of the ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation pathway. The filamentous fungus N. crassa is commonly used to study protein degradation. Its CSN complex contains seven subunits (CSN-1 to CSN-7). In this study, we generated knockout mutants of individual CSN subunits and observed the phenotypes of each mutant. We demonstrated that six of the seven CSN subunits were essential for cleaving the ubiquitin-like protein Nedd8 from cullin proteins (which act as scaffolds for ubiquitin ligases). In contrast, loss of the CSN-3 subunit had no effect on cullin neddylation. We also found that each CSN subunit had distinct roles in maintaining the stability of key components of cullin-based ubiquitin ligases. In summary, we systematically investigated the unequal contributions of CSN subunits to deneddylation and the maintenance of cullin-based ubiquitin ligases in N. crassa. Our work establishes a framework for understanding the function of CSN subunits in other eukaryotes.
PMCID: PMC2996332  PMID: 21151958
6.  Cul4A and DDB1 Associate with Skp2 To Target p27Kip1 for Proteolysis Involving the COP9 Signalosome†  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2006;26(7):2531-2539.
DDB1, a subunit of the damaged-DNA binding protein DDB, has been shown to function also as an adaptor for Cul4A, a member of the cullin family of E3 ubiquitin ligase. The Cul4A-DDB1 complex remains associated with the COP9 signalosome, and that interaction is conserved from fission yeast to human. Studies with fission yeast suggested a role of the Pcu4-Ddb1-signalosome complex in the proteolysis of the replication inhibitor Spd1. Here we provide evidence that the function of replication inhibitor proteolysis is conserved in the mammalian DDB1-Cul4A-signalosome complex. We show that small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of DDB1, CSN1 (a subunit of the signalosome), and Cul4A in mammalian cells causes an accumulation of p27Kip1. Moreover, expression of DDB1 reduces the level of p27Kip1 by increasing its decay rate. The DDB1-induced proteolysis of p27Kip1 requires signalosome and Cul4A, because DDB1 failed to increase the decay rate of p27Kip1 in cells deficient in CSN1 or Cul4A. Surprisingly, the DDB1-induced proteolysis of p27Kip1 also involves Skp2, an F-box protein that allows targeting of p27Kip1 for ubiquitination by the Skp1-Cul1-F-box complex. Moreover, we provide evidence for a physical association between Cul4A, DDB1, and Skp2. We speculate that the F-box protein Skp2, in addition to utilizing Cul1-Skp1, utilizes Cul4A-DDB1 to induce proteolysis of p27Kip1.
PMCID: PMC1430311  PMID: 16537899
7.  Cullin4A and Cullin4B Are Interchangeable for HIV Vpr and Vpx Action through the CRL4 Ubiquitin Ligase Complex 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(12):6944-6958.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) seizes control of cellular cullin-RING E3 ubiquitin ligases (CRLs) to promote viral replication. HIV-1 Vpr and HIV-2/simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) Vpr and Vpx engage the cullin4 (CUL4)-containing ubiquitin ligase complex (CRL4) to cause polyubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of host proteins, including ones that block infection. HIV-1 Vpr engages CRL4 to trigger the degradation of uracil-N-glycosylase 2 (UNG2). Both HIV-1 Vpr and HIV-2/SIV Vpr tap CRL4 to initiate G2 cell cycle arrest. HIV-2/SIV Vpx secures CRL4 to degrade the antiviral protein SAMHD1. CRL4 includes either cullin4A (CUL4A) or cullin4B (CUL4B) among its components. Whether Vpr or Vpx relies on CUL4A, CUL4B, or both to act through CRL4 is not known. Reported structural, phenotypic, and intracellular distribution differences between the two CUL4 types led us to hypothesize that Vpr and Vpx employ these in a function-specific manner. Here we determined CUL4 requirements for HIV-1 and HIV-2/SIV Vpr-mediated G2 cell cycle arrest, HIV-1 Vpr-mediated UNG2 degradation, and HIV-2 Vpx-mediated SAMHD1 degradation. Surprisingly, CUL4A and CUL4B are exchangeable for CRL4-dependent Vpr and Vpx action, except in primary macrophages, where Vpx relies on both CUL4A and CUL4B for maximal SAMHD1 depletion. This work highlights the need to consider both CUL4 types for Vpr and Vpx functions and also shows that the intracellular distribution of CUL4A and CUL4B can vary by cell type.
IMPORTANCE The work presented here shows for the first time that HIV Vpr and Vpx do not rely exclusively on CUL4A to cause ubiquitination through the CRL4 ubiquitin ligase complex. Furthermore, our finding that intracellular CUL4 and SAMHD1 distributions can vary with cell type provides the basis for reconciling previous disparate findings regarding the site of SAMHD1 depletion. Finally, our observations with primary immune cells provide insight into the cell biology of CUL4A and CUL4B that will help differentiate the functions of these similar proteins.
PMCID: PMC4054339  PMID: 24719410
8.  Timely Activation of Budding Yeast APCCdh1 Involves Degradation of Its Inhibitor, Acm1, by an Unconventional Proteolytic Mechanism 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e103517.
Regulated proteolysis mediated by the ubiquitin proteasome system is a fundamental and essential feature of the eukaryotic cell division cycle. Most proteins with cell cycle-regulated stability are targeted for degradation by one of two related ubiquitin ligases, the Skp1-cullin-F box protein (SCF) complex or the anaphase-promoting complex (APC). Here we describe an unconventional cell cycle-regulated proteolytic mechanism that acts on the Acm1 protein, an inhibitor of the APC activator Cdh1 in budding yeast. Although Acm1 can be recognized as a substrate by the Cdc20-activated APC (APCCdc20) in anaphase, APCCdc20 is neither necessary nor sufficient for complete Acm1 degradation at the end of mitosis. An APC-independent, but 26S proteasome-dependent, mechanism is sufficient for complete Acm1 clearance from late mitotic and G1 cells. Surprisingly, this mechanism appears distinct from the canonical ubiquitin targeting pathway, exhibiting several features of ubiquitin-independent proteasomal degradation. For example, Acm1 degradation in G1 requires neither lysine residues in Acm1 nor assembly of polyubiquitin chains. Acm1 was stabilized though by conditional inactivation of the ubiquitin activating enzyme Uba1, implying some requirement for the ubiquitin pathway, either direct or indirect. We identified an amino terminal predicted disordered region in Acm1 that contributes to its proteolysis in G1. Although ubiquitin-independent proteasome substrates have been described, Acm1 appears unique in that its sensitivity to this mechanism is strictly cell cycle-regulated via cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk) phosphorylation. As a result, Acm1 expression is limited to the cell cycle window in which Cdk is active. We provide evidence that failure to eliminate Acm1 impairs activation of APCCdh1 at mitotic exit, justifying its strict regulation by cell cycle-dependent transcription and proteolytic mechanisms. Importantly, our results reveal that strict cell-cycle expression profiles can be established independent of proteolysis mediated by the APC and SCF enzymes.
PMCID: PMC4114781  PMID: 25072887
9.  Destabilization of Rb by human papillomavirus E7 is cell cycle dependent: E2-25K is involved in the proteolysis 
Virology  2009;396(1):118-124.
The HPV-oncoprotein, E7 promotes proteasomal degradation of the tumor suppressor protein, Rb. In this study, we analyzed the regulation of E7-induced Rb proteolysis in HPV-containing Caski cervical cancer cells. We show that the Rb proteolysis is cell cycle dependent; in S phase Rb is stable while in post-mitotic early G1 phase cells and in differentiated cells, Rb is unstable. Similarly, the in vivo Rb/E7 interaction is not detected in S phase cells, but is readily detected in differentiating Caski cells. The ubiquitinating enzymes involved in Rb proteolysis have not been identified. We find that the E3 ligase MDM2 is not involved in the Rb proteolysis in Caski cells. An in vivo analysis using multiple catalytic-site mutant dominant negative E2-enzymes show that the C92A E2-25K most effectively blocks E7-induced Rb proteolysis. Taken together, these results show that E7 induces Rb proteolysis in growth-arrested cells and E2-25K is involved in the proteolysis.
PMCID: PMC2796474  PMID: 19906396
10.  Human Papillomavirus Type 16 E7 Oncoprotein Associates with the Cullin 2 Ubiquitin Ligase Complex, Which Contributes to Degradation of the Retinoblastoma Tumor Suppressor▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;81(18):9737-9747.
Human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16) and other high-risk HPVs are etiologically linked to the development of cervical carcinomas and contribute to a number of other tumors of the anogenital tract, as well as oral cancers. The high-risk HPV E6 and E7 oncoproteins are consistently expressed in cervical cancer cells and are necessary for the induction and maintenance of the transformed phenotype. An important aspect of HPV16 E7's oncogenic activities is destabilization of the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor (pRB) through a ubiquitin/proteasome-dependent mechanism, although the exact molecular mechanism is unknown. Here, we report that HPV16 E7 is associated with an enzymatically active cullin 2 ubiquitin ligase complex and that the HPV16 E7/pRB complex contains cullin 2. Depletion of cullin 2 by RNA interference causes increased steady-state levels and stability of pRB in HPV16 E7-expressing cells, and ectopic expression of HPV16 E7 and the cullin 2 complex leads to pRB ubiquitination in vivo. Hence, we propose that the HPV16 E7-associated cullin 2 ubiquitin ligase complex contributes to aberrant degradation of the pRB tumor suppressor in HPV16 E7-expressing cells.
PMCID: PMC2045412  PMID: 17609271
11.  Regulation of Cullin-RING ubiquitin ligase 1 by Spliceosome-associated protein 130 (SAP130) 
Biology Open  2013;2(8):838-844.
Cullin-RING ubiquitin ligases (CRLs) mediate the ubiquitination of numerous protein substrates and target them for proteasomal degradation. The function of CRLs is under tight regulation by Cullin-binding proteins. It has been reported that the Spliceosome-associated protein 130 (SAP130/SF3b-3) binds to several Cullin proteins, yet it remains unknown whether SAP130 plays any role in regulating the function of CRLs. Here, we report that SAP130 overexpression reduces the binding of adaptor protein Skp1 and substrate receptor Skp2 to Cul1, whereas it has no effect on CAND1 binding to Cul1. Overexpression of SAP130 decreases the degradation rate of p27, a protein substrate of the SCFSkp2 ligase. Interestingly, silencing of SAP130 also inhibits the degradation of p27, suggesting a dual role for SAP130 in the regulation of SCF activity. We hypothesized that the regulatory role of SAP130 could extend to other CRLs; however, overexpression of SAP130 is unable to affect the protein stability of the Cul2 and Cul3 substrates, HIF-1 and NRF-2. SAP130 binds to Cul1, Cul2 and Cul4 with similar affinity, and it binds to Cul3 more strongly. SAP130 localizes in both the nucleus and the cytoplasm. Hence, the inability of SAP130 to regulate Cul2 and Cul3 CRLs cannot be explained by low binding affinity of SAP130 to these cullins or by subcellular sequestration of SAP130. We propose a novel role for SAP130 in the regulation of SCF, whereby SAP130 physically competes with the adaptor protein/F-box protein for Cul1 binding and interferes with the assembly of a functional SCF ligase.
PMCID: PMC3744076  PMID: 23951410
Cullin-RING ligase 1; SAP130; p27
12.  Genetic Reevaluation of the Role of F-Box Proteins in Cyclin D1 Degradation 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2012;32(3):590-605.
D-type cyclins play a pivotal role in G1-S progression of the cell cycle, and their expression is frequently deregulated in cancer. Cyclin D1 has a half-life of only ∼30 min as a result of its ubiquitylation and proteasomal degradation, with various F-box proteins, including Fbxo4, Fbxw8, Skp2, and Fbxo31, having been found to contribute to its ubiquitylation. We have now generated Fbxo4-deficient mice and found no abnormalities in these animals. Cyclin D1 accumulation was thus not observed in Fbxo4−/− mouse tissues. The half-life of cyclin D1 in mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) prepared from Fbxo4−/−, Fbxw8−/−, and Fbxo4−/−; Fbxw8−/− mice also did not differ from that in wild-type MEFs. Additional depletion of Skp2 and Fbxo31 in Fbxo4−/−; Fbxw8−/− MEFs by RNA interference did not affect cyclin D1 stability. Although Fbxo31 depletion in MEFs increased cyclin D1 abundance, this effect appeared attributable to upregulation of cyclin D1 mRNA. Furthermore, abrogation of the function of the Skp1–Cul1–F-box protein (SCF) complex or the anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C) complexes did not alter the half-life of cyclin D1, whereas cyclin D1 degradation was dependent largely on proteasome activity. Our genetic analyses thus do not support a role for any of the four F-box proteins examined in cyclin D1 degradation during normal cell cycle progression. They suggest the existence of other ubiquitin ligases that target cyclin D1 for proteolysis.
PMCID: PMC3266600  PMID: 22124152
13.  Ectromelia Virus Encodes a Novel Family of F-Box Proteins That Interact with the SCF Complex▿  
Journal of Virology  2008;82(20):9917-9927.
Poxviruses are notorious for encoding multiple proteins that regulate cellular signaling pathways, including the ubiquitin-proteasome system. Bioinformatics indicated that ectromelia virus, the causative agent of lethal mousepox, encoded four proteins, EVM002, EVM005, EVM154, and EVM165, containing putative F-box domains. In contrast to cellular F-box proteins, the ectromelia virus proteins contain C-terminal F-box domains in conjunction with N-terminal ankyrin repeats, a combination that has not been previously reported for cellular proteins. These observations suggested that the ectromelia virus F-box proteins interact with SCF (Skp1, cullin-1, and F-box) ubiquitin ligases. We focused our studies on EVM005, since this protein had only one ortholog in cowpox virus. Using mass spectrometry, we identified cullin-1 as a binding partner for EVM005, and this interaction was confirmed by overexpression of hemagglutinin (HA)-cullin-1. During infection, Flag-EVM005 and HA-cullin-1 colocalized to distinct cellular bodies. Significantly, EVM005 coprecipitated with endogenous Skp1, cullin-1, and Roc1 and associated with conjugated ubiquitin, suggesting that EVM005 interacted with the components of a functional ubiquitin ligase. Interaction of EVM005 with cullin-1 and Skp1 was abolished upon deletion of the F-box, indicating that the F-box played a crucial role in interaction with the SCF complex. Additionally, EVM002 and EVM154 interacted with Skp1 and conjugated ubiquitin, suggesting that ectromelia virus encodes multiple F-box-containing proteins that regulate the SCF complex. Our results indicate that ectromelia virus has evolved multiple proteins that interact with the SCF complex.
PMCID: PMC2566254  PMID: 18684824
14.  Chlorovirus Skp1-Binding Ankyrin Repeat Protein Interplay and Mimicry of Cellular Ubiquitin Ligase Machinery 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(23):13798-13810.
The ubiquitin-proteasome system is targeted by many viruses that have evolved strategies to redirect host ubiquitination machinery. Members of the genus Chlorovirus are proposed to share an ancestral lineage with a broader group of related viruses, nucleo-cytoplasmic large DNA viruses (NCLDV). Chloroviruses encode an Skp1 homolog and ankyrin repeat (ANK) proteins. Several chlorovirus-encoded ANK repeats contain C-terminal domains characteristic of cellular F-boxes or related NCLDV chordopox PRANC (pox protein repeats of ankyrin at C-terminal) domains. These observations suggested that this unique combination of Skp1 and ANK repeat proteins might form complexes analogous to the cellular Skp1-Cul1-F-box (SCF) ubiquitin ligase complex. We identified two ANK proteins from the prototypic chlorovirus Paramecium bursaria chlorella virus-1 (PBCV-1) that functioned as binding partners for the virus-encoded Skp1, proteins A682L and A607R. These ANK proteins had a C-terminal Skp1 interactional motif that functioned similarly to cellular F-box domains. A C-terminal motif of ANK protein A682L binds Skp1 proteins from widely divergent species. Yeast two-hybrid analyses using serial domain deletion constructs confirmed the C-terminal localization of the Skp1 interactional motif in PBCV-1 A682L. ANK protein A607R represents an ANK family with one member present in all 41 sequenced chloroviruses. A comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of these related ANK and viral Skp1 proteins suggested partnered function tailored to the host alga or common ancestral heritage. Here, we show protein-protein interaction between corresponding family clusters of virus-encoded ANK and Skp1 proteins from three chlorovirus types. Collectively, our results indicate that chloroviruses have evolved complementing Skp1 and ANK proteins that mimic cellular SCF-associated proteins.
IMPORTANCE Viruses have evolved ways to direct ubiquitination events in order to create environments conducive to their replication. As reported in the manuscript, the large chloroviruses encode several components involved in the SCF ubiquitin ligase complex including a viral Skp1 homolog. Studies on how chloroviruses manipulate their host algal ubiquitination system will provide insights toward viral protein mimicry, substrate recognition, and key interactive domains controlling selective protein degradation. These findings may also further understanding of the evolution of other large DNA viruses, like poxviruses, that are reported to share the same monophyly lineage as chloroviruses.
PMCID: PMC4248966  PMID: 25253343
15.  A novel gene, MdSSK1, as a component of the SCF complex rather than MdSBP1 can mediate the ubiquitination of S-RNase in apple 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2014;65(12):3121-3131.
The related components of the SCF complex in apple were cloned and it was proved that an SCF complex containing MdSSK1 rather than MdSBP1 can mediate the ubiquitination of S-RNase.
As a core factor in S-RNase-based gametophytic self-incompatibility (GSI), the SCF (SKP1–Cullin1–F-box-Rbx1) complex (including pollen determinant SLF, S-locus-F-box) functions as an E3 ubiquitin ligase on non-self S-RNase. The SCF complex is formed by SKP1 bridging between SLF, CUL1, and Rbx1; however, it is not known whether an SCF complex lacking SKP1 can mediate the ubiquitination of S-RNase. Three SKP1-like genes from pollen were cloned based on the structural features of the SLF-interacting-SKP1-like (SSK) gene and the ‘Golden Delicious’ apple genome. These genes have a motif of five amino acids following the standard ‘WAFE’ at the C terminal and, in addition, contain eight sheets and two helices. All three genes were expressed exclusively in pollen. In the yeast two-hybrid and pull-down assays only one was found to interact with MdSFBB and MdCUL1, suggesting it is the SLF-interacting SKP1-like gene in apple which was named MdSSK1. In vitro experiments using MdSSK1, S2-MdSFBB1 (S2-Malus domestica S-locus-F-box brother) and MdCUL1 proteins incubated with S 2-RNase and ubiquitin revealed that the SCF complex ubiquitinylates S-RNase in vitro, while MdSBP1 (Malus domestica S-RNase binding protein 1) could not functionally replace MdSSK1 in the SCF complex in ubiquitinylating S-RNase. According to the above experiments, MdSBP1 is probably the only factor responsible for recognition with S-RNase, while not a component of the SCF complex, and an SCF complex containing MdSSK1 is required for mediating the ubiquitination of S-RNase.
PMCID: PMC4071834  PMID: 24759884
Apple; SCF complex; self-incompatibility; S-RNase; SSK; ubiquitin.
16.  The Human Papillomavirus Type 18 E2 Protein Is a Cell Cycle-Dependent Target of the SCFSkp2 Ubiquitin Ligase▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;84(1):437-444.
The human papillomavirus type 18 (HPV-18) E2 gene is inactivated in cervical carcinoma after integration of the viral DNA into the host cellular genome. Since E2 represses the transcription of the two viral oncogenes E6 and E7, integration which allows their strong expression is considered a major step in transformation by HPV. We show here that E2 is specifically degraded at the end of the G1 phase in a Brd4-independent manner, implying that its regulatory functions are cell cycle dependent. Degradation of E2 occurs via the Skp1/Cullin1/F-box Skp2 (SCFSkp2) ubiquitin ligase, since silencing of Skp2 induces stabilization of E2. In addition, the amino-terminal domain of E2 can interact with Skp2 as shown by coimmunoprecipitation experiments. We previously showed that E2 inhibits the anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C) ubiquitin ligase, leading to accumulation of several of its substrates. We demonstrate here that Skp2, which is a known APC/C substrate in G1, is also stabilized by E2. Therefore, by negative feedback, SCFSkp2 activation could lead to E2 degradation and E6/E7 expression specifically in the late G1 phase. Moreover, since the SCFSkp2 can trigger S-phase entry and Skp2 itself is a known oncogene, we believe that E2-mediated accumulation of Skp2, together with E2 degradation leading to putative release of E6 and E7 inhibition, could induce premature S-phase entry in HPV-infected cells, pointing to a direct role of E2 in the early steps of HPV-mediated transformation.
PMCID: PMC2798402  PMID: 19828607
17.  Dysregulation of core components of SCF complex in poly-glutamine disorders 
Cell Death & Disease  2012;3(11):e428-.
Poly-glutamine (polyQ) diseases are neurodegenerative disorders characterised by expanded CAG repeats in the causative genes whose proteins form inclusion bodies. Various E3 ubiquitin ligases are implicated in neurodegenerative disorders. We report that dysfunction of the SCF (Skp1-Cul1-F-box protein) complex, one of the most well-characterised ubiquitin ligases, is associated with pathology in polyQ diseases like Huntington's disease (HD) and Machado–Joseph disease (MJD). We found that Cullin1 (Cul1) and Skp1, core components of the SCF complex, are reduced in HD mice brain. A reduction in Cul1 levels was also observed in cellular HD model and fly models of both HD and MJD. We show that Cul1 is able to genetically modify mutant huntingtin aggregates because its silencing results in increased aggregate load in cultured cells. Moreover, we demonstrate that silencing dCul1 and dSkp1 in Drosophila results in increased aggregate load and enhanced polyQ-induced toxicity. Our results imply that reduced levels of SCF complex might contribute to polyQ disease pathology.
PMCID: PMC3542602  PMID: 23171848
Cullin1; E3 ligase; Huntington's disease; neurodegeneration; SCF
18.  Inhibition of NEDD8 Conjugation Pathway by Novel Molecules: Potential Approaches to Anticancer Therapy 
Molecular oncology  2012;6(3):10.1016/j.molonc.2012.01.003.
Cancer cells can survive through the upregulation of cell cycle and the escape from apoptosis induced by numerous cellular stresses. In the normal cells, these biological cascades depend on scheduled proteolytic degradation of regulatory proteins via the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. Therefore, interruption of regulated proteolytic pathways leads to abnormal cell-proliferation. Ubiquitin ligases called SCF complex (consisting of Skp-1, cullin, and F-box protein) or CRL (cullin-RING ubiquitin ligase) are predominant in a family of E3 ubiquitin ligases that control a final step in ubiquitination of diverse substrates. To a great extent, the ubiquitin ligase activity of the SCF complex requires the conjugation of NEDD8 to cullins, i.e. scaffold proteins. This review is anticipated to review the downregulation system of NEDD8 conjugation by several factors including a chemical compound such as MLN4924 and protein molecules (e.g. COP9 signalosome, inactive mutant of Ubc12, and NUB1/NUB1L). Since the downregulation of NEDD8 conjugation affects cell cycle progression by inhibiting the ligase activity of SCF complexes, such knowledge in the NEDD8 conjugation pathway will contribute to the more magnificent therapies that selectively suppress tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC3826113  PMID: 22306028
Ubiquitination; SCF complex; NEDD8; MLN4924; Ubc12; NUB1
19.  Estrogen and Progesterone Regulate p27kip1 Levels via the Ubiquitin-Proteasome System: Pathogenic and Therapeutic Implications for Endometrial Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e46072.
The levels of proteins that control the cell cycle are regulated by ubiquitin-mediated degradation via the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) by substrate-specific E3 ubiquitin ligases. The cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, p27kip1 (p27), that blocks the cell cycle in G1, is ubiquitylated by the E3 ligase SCF-Skp2/Cks1 for degradation by the UPS. In turn, Skp2 and Cks1 are ubiquitylated by the E3 ligase complex APC/Cdh1 for destruction thereby maintaining abundant levels of nuclear p27. We previously showed that perpetual proteasomal degradation of p27 is an early event in Type I endometrial carcinogenesis (ECA), an estrogen (E2)-induced cancer. The present studies demonstrate that E2 stimulates growth of ECA cell lines and normal primary endometrial epithelial cells (EECs) and induces MAPK-ERK1/2-dependent phosphorylation of p27 on Thr187, a prerequisite for p27 ubiquitylation by nuclear SCF-Skp2/Cks1 and subsequent degradation. In addition, E2 decreases the E3 ligase [APC]Cdh1 leaving Skp2 and Cks1 intact to cause p27 degradation. Furthermore, knocking-down Skp2 prevents E2-induced p27 degradation and growth stimulation suggesting that the pathogenesis of E2-induced ECA is dependent on Skp2-mediated degradation of p27. Conversely, progesterone (Pg) as an inhibitor of endometrial proliferation increases nuclear p27 and Cdh1 in primary EECs and ECA cells. Pg, also increases Cdh1 binding to APC to form the active E3ligase. Knocking-down Cdh1 obviates Pg-induced stabilization of p27 and growth inhibition. Notably, neither E2 nor Pg affected transcription of Cdh1, Skp2, Cks1 nor p27. These studies provide new insights into hormone regulation of cell proliferation through the UPS. The data implicates that preventing nuclear p27 degradation by blocking Skp2/Cks1-mediated degradation of p27 or increasing Cdh1 to mediate degradation of Skp2-Cks1 are potential strategies for the prevention and treatment of ECA.
PMCID: PMC3459846  PMID: 23029392
20.  UBXN7 docks on neddylated cullin complexes using its UIM motif and causes HIF1α accumulation 
BMC Biology  2012;10:36.
The proteins from the UBA-UBX family interact with ubiquitylated proteins via their UBA domain and with p97 via their UBX domain, thereby acting as substrate-binding adaptors for the p97 ATPase. In particular, human UBXN7 (also known as UBXD7) mediates p97 interaction with the transcription factor HIF1α that is actively ubiquitylated in normoxic cells by a CUL2-based E3 ligase, CRL2. Mass spectrometry analysis of UBA-UBX protein immunoprecipitates showed that they interact with a multitude of E3 ubiquitin-ligases. Conspicuously, UBXN7 was most proficient in interacting with cullin-RING ligase subunits. We therefore set out to determine whether UBXN7 interaction with cullins was direct or mediated by its ubiquitylated targets bound to the UBA domain.
We show that UBXN7 interaction with cullins is independent of ubiquitin- and substrate-binding. Instead, it relies on the UIM motif in UBXN7 that directly engages the NEDD8 modification on cullins. To understand the functional consequences of UBXN7 interaction with neddylated cullins, we focused on HIF1α, a CUL2 substrate that uses UBXD7/p97 as a ubiquitin-receptor on its way to proteasome-mediated degradation. We find that UBXN7 over-expression converts CUL2 to its neddylated form and causes the accumulation of non-ubiquitylated HIF1α. Both of these effects are strictly UIM-dependent and occur only when UBXN7 contains an intact UIM motif. We also show that HIF1α carrying long ubiquitin-chains can recruit alternative ubiquitin-receptors, lacking p97's ATP-dependent segregase activity.
Our study shows that independently of its function as a ubiquitin-binding adaptor for p97, UBXN7 directly interacts with neddylated cullins and causes the accumulation of the CUL2 substrate HIF1α. We propose that by sequestering CUL2 in its neddylated form, UBXN7 negatively regulates the ubiquitin-ligase activity of CRL2 and this might prevent recruitment of ubiquitin-receptors other than p97 to nuclear HIF1α.
PMCID: PMC3349548  PMID: 22537386
cullin; NEDD8; p97; ubiquitin-dependent degradation; UBXD7
21.  Stealing the spotlight: CUL4-DDB1 ubiquitin ligase docks WD40-repeat proteins to destroy 
Cell Division  2007;2:5.
Recent investigation of Cullin 4 (CUL4) has ushered this class of multiprotein ubiquitin E3 ligases to center stage as critical regulators of diverse processes including cell cycle regulation, developmental patterning, DNA replication, DNA damage and repair, and epigenetic control of gene expression. CUL4 associates with DNA Damage Binding protein 1 (DDB1) to assemble an ubiquitin E3 ligase that targets protein substrates for ubiquitin-dependent proteolysis. CUL4 ligase activity is also regulated by the covalent attachment of the ubiquitin-like protein NEDD8 to CUL4, or neddylation, and the COP9 signalosome complex (CSN) that removes this important modification. Recently, multiple WD40-repeat proteins (WDR) were found to interact with DDB1 and serve as the substrate-recognition subunits of the CUL4-DDB1 ubiquitin ligase. As more than 150–300 WDR proteins exist in the human genome, these findings impact a wide array of biological processes through CUL4 ligase-mediated proteolysis. Here, we review the recent progress in understanding the mechanism of CUL4 ubiquitin E3 ligase and discuss the architecture of CUL4-assembled E3 ubiquitin ligase complexes by comparison to CUL1-based E3s (SCF). Then, we will review several examples to highlight the critical roles of CUL4 ubiquitin ligase in genome stability, cell cycle regulation, and histone lysine methylation. Together, these studies provide insights into the mechanism of this novel ubiquitin ligase in the regulation of important biological processes.
PMCID: PMC1805432  PMID: 17280619
22.  Disruption of the COP9 Signalosome Csn2 Subunit in Mice Causes Deficient Cell Proliferation, Accumulation of p53 and Cyclin E, and Early Embryonic Death 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2003;23(19):6790-6797.
Csn2 (Trip15/Cops2/Alien) encodes the second subunit of the COP9 signalosome (CSN), an eight-subunit heteromeric complex homologous to the lid subcomplex of the 26S proteasome. CSN is a regulator of SCF (Skp1-cullin-F-box protein)ubiquitin ligases, mostly through the enzymatic activity that deconjugates the ubiquitin-like protein Nedd8 from the SCF Cul1 component. In addition, CSN associates with protein kinase activities targeting p53, c-Jun, and IκB for phosphorylation. Csn2 also interacts with and regulates a subset of nuclear hormone receptors and is considered a novel corepressor. We report that targeted disruption of Csn2 in mice caused arrest of embryo development at the peri-implantation stage. Csn2−/− blastocysts failed to outgrow in culture and exhibited a cell proliferation defect in inner cell mass, accompanied by a slight decrease in Oct4. In addition, lack of Csn2 disrupted the CSN complex and resulted in a drastic increase in cyclin E, supporting a role for CSN in cooperating with the SCF-ubiquitin-proteasome system to regulate protein turnover. Furthermore, Csn2−/− embryos contained elevated levels of p53 and p21, which may contribute to premature cell cycle arrest of the mutant.
PMCID: PMC193936  PMID: 12972599
23.  Virulence Factor NSs of Rift Valley Fever Virus Recruits the F-Box Protein FBXO3 To Degrade Subunit p62 of General Transcription Factor TFIIH 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(6):3464-3473.
The nonstructural protein NSs is the main virulence factor of Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV; family Bunyaviridae, genus Phlebovirus), a serious pathogen of livestock and humans in Africa. RVFV NSs blocks transcriptional upregulation of antiviral type I interferons (IFN) and destroys the general transcription factor TFIIH subunit p62 via the ubiquitin/proteasome pathway. Here, we identified a subunit of E3 ubiquitin ligases, F-box protein FBXO3, as a host cell interactor of NSs. Small interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated depletion of FBXO3 rescued p62 protein levels in RVFV-infected cells and elevated IFN transcription by 1 order of magnitude. NSs interacts with the full-length FBXO3 protein as well as with a truncated isoform that lacks the C-terminal acidic and poly(R)-rich domains. These isoforms are present in both the nucleus and the cytoplasm. NSs exclusively removes the nuclear pool of full-length FBXO3, likely due to consumption during the degradation process. F-box proteins form the variable substrate recognition subunit of the so-called SCF ubiquitin ligases, which also contain the constant components Skp1, cullin 1 (or cullin 7), and Rbx1. siRNA knockdown of Skp1 also protected p62 from degradation, suggesting involvement in NSs action. However, knockdown of cullin 1, cullin 7, or Rbx1 could not rescue p62 degradation by NSs. Our data show that the enzymatic removal of p62 via the host cell factor FBXO3 is a major mechanism of IFN suppression by RVFV.
IMPORTANCE Rift Valley fever virus is a serious emerging pathogen of animals and humans. Its main virulence factor, NSs, enables unhindered virus replication by suppressing the antiviral innate immune system. We identified the E3 ubiquitin ligase FBXO3 as a novel host cell interactor of NSs. NSs recruits FBXO3 to destroy the general host cell transcription factor TFIIH-p62, resulting in suppression of the transcriptional upregulation of innate immunity.
PMCID: PMC3957945  PMID: 24403578
24.  SCF E3 Ubiquitin Ligases as Anticancer Targets 
Current Cancer Drug Targets  2011;11(3):347-356.
The SCF (Skp1, Cullins, F-box proteins) multisubunit E3 ubiquitin ligase, also known as CRL (Cullin-RING ubiquitin Ligase) is the largest E3 ubiquitin ligase family that promotes the ubiquitination of various regulatory proteins for targeted degradation, thus regulating many biological processes, including cell cycle progression, signal transduction, and DNA replication. The efforts to discover small molecule inhibitors of a SCF-type ligase or its components were expedited by the FDA approval of Bortezomib (also known as Velcade or PS-341), the first (and only) class of general proteasome inhibitor, for the treatment of relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma. Although Bortezomib has demonstrated a certain degree of cancer cell selectivity with measurable therapeutic index, the drug is, in general, cytotoxic due to its inhibition of overall protein degradation. An alternative and ideal approach is to target a specific E3 ligase, known to be activated in human cancer, for a high level of specificity and selectivity with less associated toxicity, since such inhibitors would selectively stabilize a specific set of cellular proteins regulated by this E3. Here, we review recent advances in validation of SCF E3 ubiquitin ligase as an attractive anti-cancer target and discuss how MLN4924, a small molecule inhibitor of NEDD8-activating enzyme, can be developed as a novel class of anticancer agents by inhibiting SCF E3 ligase via removal of cullin neddylation. Finally, we discuss under future perspective how basic research on SCF biology will direct the drug discovery efforts surrounding this target.
PMCID: PMC3323109  PMID: 21247385
Ubiquitin-proteasome system; SCF E3 ubiquitin ligase; anticancer target; drug discovery; neddylation; cullins; F-box proteins; RING ligases
25.  Human Cdc34 and Rad6B Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzymes Target Repressors of Cyclic AMP-Induced Transcription for Proteolysis 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1999;19(7):5001-5013.
Ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis controls diverse physiological processes in eukaryotes. However, few in vivo targets of the mammalian Cdc34 and Rad6 ubiquitin-conjugating enzymes are known. A yeast-based genetic assay to identify proteins that interact with human Cdc34 resulted in three cDNAs encoding bZIP DNA binding motifs. Two of these interactants are repressors of cyclic AMP (cAMP)-induced transcription: hICERIIγ, a product of the CREM gene, and hATF5, a novel ATF homolog. Transfection assays with mammalian cells demonstrate both hCdc34- and hRad6B-dependent ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis of hICERIIγ and hATF5. This degradation requires an active ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme and results in abrogation of ICERIIγ- and ATF5-mediated repression of cAMP-induced transcription. Consistent with these results, the endogenous ICER protein is elevated in cells which are null for murine Rad6B (mHR6B−/−) or transfected with dominant negative and antisense constructs of human CDC34. Based on the requirement for CREM/ICER and Rad6B proteins in spermatogenesis, we determined expression of Cdc34, Rad6B, CREM/ICER isoforms, and the Skp1–Cullin–F-box ubiquitin protein ligase subunits Cul-1 and Cul-2, which are associated with Cdc34 activity during murine testicular development. Cdc34, Rad6B, and the Cullin proteins are expressed in a developmentally regulated manner, with distinctly different patterns for Cdc34 and the Cullin proteins in germ cells. The Cdc34 and Rad6B proteins are significantly elevated in meiotic and postmeiotic haploid germ cells when chromatin modifications occur. Thus, the stability of specific mammalian transcription factors is the result of complex targeting by multiple ubiquitin-conjugating enzymes and may have an impact on cAMP-inducible gene regulation during both meiotic and mitotic cell cycles.
PMCID: PMC84326  PMID: 10373550

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