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1.  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
2.  Role of SKP1-CUL1-F-Box-Protein (SCF) E3 Ubiquitin Ligases in Skin Cancer 
Journal of genetics and genomics = Yi chuan xue bao  2013;40(3):10.1016/j.jgg.2013.02.001.
Many biological processes such as cell proliferation, differentiation, and cell death depend precisely on the timely synthesis and degradation of key regulatory proteins. While protein synthesis can be regulated at multiple levels, protein degradation is mainly controlled by the ubiquitin—proteasome system (UPS), which consists of two distinct steps: (1) ubiquitylation of targeted protein by E1 ubiquitin-activating enzyme, E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme and E3 ubiquitin ligase, and (2) subsequent degradation by the 26S proteasome. Among all E3 ubiquitin ligases, the SCF (SKP1-CUL1-F-box protein) E3 ligases are the largest family and are responsible for the turnover of many key regulatory proteins. Aberrant regulation of SCF E3 ligases is associated with various human diseases, such as cancers, including skin cancer. In this review, we provide a comprehensive overview of all currently published data to define a promoting role of SCF E3 ligases in the development of skin cancer. The future directions in this area of research are also discussed with an ultimate goal to develop small molecule inhibitors of SCF E3 ligases as a novel approach for the treatment of human skin cancer. Furthermore, altered components or substrates of SCF E3 ligases may also be developed as the biomarkers for early diagnosis or predicting prognosis.
doi:10.1016/j.jgg.2013.02.001
PMCID: PMC3861240  PMID: 23522382
Carcinogenesis; F-box proteins; RING proteins; SCF E3 ligases; Skin; Ubiquitin ligases
3.  Proteomic snapshot of the EGF-induced ubiquitin network 
In this work, the authors report the first proteome-wide analysis of EGF-regulated ubiquitination, revealing surprisingly pervasive growth factor-induced ubiquitination across a broad range of cellular systems and signaling pathways.
Epidermal growth factor (EGF) triggers a novel ubiquitin (Ub)-based signaling cascade that appears to intersect both housekeeping and regulatory circuitries of cellular physiology.The EGF-regulated Ubiproteome includes scores ubiquitinating and deubiquitinating enzymes, suggesting that the Ub signal might be rapidly transmitted and amplified through the Ub machinery.The EGF-Ubiproteome overlaps significantly with the EGF-phosphotyrosine proteome, pointing to a possible crosstalk between these two signaling mechanisms.The significant number of biological insights uncovered in our study (among which EphA2 as a novel, downstream ubiquitinated target of EGF receptor) illustrates the general relevance of such proteomic screens and calls for further analysis of the dynamics of the Ubiproteome.
Ubiquitination is a process by which one or more ubiquitin (Ub) monomers or chains are covalently attached to target proteins by E3 ligases. Deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs) revert Ub conjugation, thus ensuring a dynamic equilibrium between pools of ubiquitinated and deubiquitinated proteins (Amerik and Hochstrasser, 2004). Traditionally, ubiquitination has been associated with protein degradation; however, it is now becoming apparent that this post-translation modification is an important signaling mechanism that can modulate the function, localization and protein/protein interaction abilities of targets (Mukhopadhyay and Riezman, 2007; Ravid and Hochstrasser, 2008).
One of the best-characterized signaling pathways involving ubiquitination is the epidermal growth factor (EGF)-induced pathway. Upon EGF stimulation, a variety of proteins are subject to Ub modification. These include the EGF receptor (EGFR), which undergoes both multiple monoubiquitination (Haglund et al, 2003) and K63-linked polyubiquitination (Huang et al, 2006), as well as components of the downstream endocytic machinery, which are modified by monoubiquitination (Polo et al, 2002; Mukhopadhyay and Riezman, 2007). Ubiquitination of the EGFR has been shown to have an impact on receptor internalization, intracellular sorting and metabolic fate (Acconcia et al, 2009). However, little is known about the wider impact of EGF-induced ubiquitination on cellular homeostasis and on the pleiotropic biological functions of the EGFR. In this paper, we attempt to address this issue by characterizing the repertoire of proteins that are ubiquitinated upon EGF stimulation, i.e., the EGF-Ubiproteome.
To achieve this, we employed two different purification procedures (endogenous—based on the purification of proteins modified by endogenous Ub from human cells; tandem affinity purification (TAP)—based on the purification of proteins modified by an ectopically expressed tagged-Ub from mouse cells) with stable isotope labeling with amino acids in cell culture-based MS to obtain both steady-state Ubiproteomes and EGF-induced Ubiproteomes. The steady-state Ubiproteomes consist of 1175 and 582 unambiguously identified proteins for the endogenous and TAP approaches, respectively, which we largely validated. Approximately 15% of the steady-state Ubiproteome was EGF-regulated at 10 min after stimulation; 176 of 1175 in the endogenous approach and 105 of 582 in the TAP approach. Both hyper- and hypoubiquitinated proteins were detected, indicating that EGFR-mediated signaling can modulate the ubiquitin network in both directions. Interestingly, many E2, E3 and DUBs were present in the EGF-Ubiproteome, suggesting that the Ub signal might be rapidly transmitted and amplified through the Ub machinery. Moreover, analysis of Ub-chain topology, performed using mass spectrometry and specific abs, suggested that the K63-linkage was the major Ub-based signal in the EGF-induced pathway.
To obtain a higher-resolution molecular picture of the EGF-regulated Ub network, we performed a network analysis on the non-redundant EGF-Ubiproteome (265 proteins). This analysis revealed that in addition to well-established liaisons with endocytosis-related pathways, the EGF-Ubiproteome intersects many circuitries of intracellular signaling involved in, e.g., DNA damage checkpoint regulation, cell-to-cell adhesion mechanisms and actin remodeling (Figure 5A).
Moreover, the EGF-Ubiproteome was enriched in hubs, proteins that can establish multiple protein/protein interaction and thereby regulate the organization of networks. These results are indicative of a crosstalk between EGFR-activated pathways and other signaling pathways through the Ub-network.
As EGF binding to its receptor also triggers a series of phosphorylation events, we examined whether there was any overlap between our EGF-Ubiproteome and published EGF-induced phosphotyrosine (pY) proteomes (Blagoev et al, 2004; Oyama et al, 2009; Hammond et al, 2010). We observed a significant overlap between ubiquitinated and pY proteins: 23% (61 of 265) of the EGF-Ubiproteome proteins were also tyrosine phosphorylated. Pathway analysis of these 61 Ub/pY-containing proteins revealed a significant enrichment in endocytic and signal-transduction pathways, while ‘hub analysis' revealed that Ub/pY-containing proteins are enriched in highly connected proteins to an even greater extent than Ub-containing proteins alone. These data point to a complex interplay between the Ub and pY networks and suggest that the flow of information from the receptor to downstream signaling molecules is driven by two complementary and interlinked enzymatic cascades: kinases/phosphatases and E3 ligases/DUBs.
Finally, we provided a proof of principle of the biological relevance of our EGF-Ubiproteome. We focused on EphA2, a receptor tyrosine kinase, which is involved in development and is often overexpressed in cancer (Pasquale, 2008). We started from the observation that EphA2 is present in the EGF-Ubiproteome and that proteins of the EGF-Ubiproteome are enriched in the Ephrin receptor signaling pathway(s). We confirmed the MS data by demonstrating that the EphA2 is ubiquitinated upon EGF stimulation. Moreover, EphA2 also undergoes tyrosine phosphorylation, indicating crosstalk between the two receptors. The EGFR kinase domain was essential for these modifications of EphA2, and a partial co-internalization with EGFR upon EGF activation was clearly detectable. Finally, we demonstrated by knockdown of EphA2 in MCF10A cells that this receptor is critically involved in EGFR biological outcomes, such as proliferation and migration (Figure 7).
Overall, our results unveil the complex impact of growth factor signaling on Ub-based intracellular networks to levels that extend well beyond what might have been expected and highlight the ‘resource' feature of our EGF-Ubiproteome.
The activity, localization and fate of many cellular proteins are regulated through ubiquitination, a process whereby one or more ubiquitin (Ub) monomers or chains are covalently attached to target proteins. While Ub-conjugated and Ub-associated proteomes have been described, we lack a high-resolution picture of the dynamics of ubiquitination in response to signaling. In this study, we describe the epidermal growth factor (EGF)-regulated Ubiproteome, as obtained by two complementary purification strategies coupled to quantitative proteomics. Our results unveil the complex impact of growth factor signaling on Ub-based intracellular networks to levels that extend well beyond what might have been expected. In addition to endocytic proteins, the EGF-regulated Ubiproteome includes a large number of signaling proteins, ubiquitinating and deubiquitinating enzymes, transporters and proteins involved in translation and transcription. The Ub-based signaling network appears to intersect both housekeeping and regulatory circuitries of cellular physiology. Finally, as proof of principle of the biological relevance of the EGF-Ubiproteome, we demonstrated that EphA2 is a novel, downstream ubiquitinated target of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), critically involved in EGFR biological responses.
doi:10.1038/msb.2010.118
PMCID: PMC3049407  PMID: 21245847
EGF; network; proteomics; signaling; ubiquitin
4.  Role of E3 ubiquitin ligases in lung cancer 
E3 ubiquitin ligases are a large family of proteins that catalyze the ubiquitination of many protein substrates for targeted degradation by the 26S proteasome. Therefore, E3 ubiquitin ligases play an essential role in a variety of biological processes including cell cycle regulation, proliferation and apoptosis. E3 ubiquitin ligases are often found overexpressed in human cancers, including lung cancer, and their deregulation has been shown to contribute to cancer development. However, the lack of specific inhibitors in clinical trials is a major issue in targeting E3 ubiquitin ligases with currently only one E3 ubiquitin ligase inhibitor being tested in the clinical setting. In this review, we focus on E3 ubiquitin ligases that have been found deregulated in lung cancer. Furthermore, we discuss the processes in which they are involved and evaluate them as potential anti-cancer targets. By better understanding the mechanisms by which E3 ubiquitin ligases regulate biological processes and their exact role in carcinogenesis, we can improve the development of specific E3 ubiquitin ligase inhibitors and pave the way for novel treatment strategies for cancer patients.
doi:10.5306/wjco.v4.i3.58
PMCID: PMC3708064  PMID: 23936758
E3 ubiquitin ligases; Lung cancer; Ubiquitin-proteasome system; Proteasome inhibitors; Bortezomib; Apoptosis; Gene regulation; DNA repair
5.  Cullin 3 as a novel target in diverse pathologies☆ 
Redox Biology  2013;1(1):366-372.
Recent evidence suggests that the malfunctioning disposal system of cell protein called ubiquitin–proteasome system (UPS) plays an important role in the development of disorders, including cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Accumulating evidence suggests that the abnormal regulation of the E3 ubiquitin ligases, essential components of the UPS, contributes to uncontrolled proliferation, genomic instability and cancer, since these ligases and their substrates are involved in the regulation of cell cycle progression, gene transcription, signal transduction, DNA replication and others. Through selective degradation of specific substrates, E3 ligases regulate different biological processes. Cullins are a family of proteins that confer substrate specificity to multimeric complex of E3 ligases acting as scaffold proteins. So far, seven members of the cullin family of proteins have been identified. Interestingly, the data generated by several groups indicate that cullin 3 (Cul3) has begun to emerge as a protein involved in the etiopathology of multiple diseases. In this paper we examine the latest advances in basic research on the biology of Cul3 and how it could help to direct drug discovery efforts on this target.
Graphical abstract
Highlights
•The most important system for protein degradation is the ubiquitin–proteasome system.•The specific substrate for ubiquitination is highly specific and this activity can be provided by the E3 ubiquitin ligases.•The E3 ubiquitin ligases based on cullins are the type of ubiquitin ligases more studied.•The cullin 3 complex has emerged as a target due to its interaction with a wide range of BTB-proteins.•Cullin 3 could be a molecule with a high therapeutic potential.
doi:10.1016/j.redox.2013.07.003
PMCID: PMC3757711  PMID: 24024173
Cullin 3; Proteasome; Nedd8; Nrf2; Oxidative stress; Cell cycle
6.  Cullin-RING Ligases as Attractive Anti-cancer Targets 
Current pharmaceutical design  2013;19(18):3215-3225.
The ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) promotes the timely degradation of short-lived proteins with key regulatory roles in a vast array of biological processes, such as cell cycle progression, oncogenesis and genome integrity. Thus, abnormal regulation of UPS disrupts the protein homeostasis and causes many human diseases, particularly cancer. Indeed, the FDA approval of bortezomib, the first class of general proteasome inhibitor, for the treatment of multiple myeloma, demonstrated that the UPS can be an attractive anti-cancer target. However, normal cell toxicity associated with bortezomib, resulting from global inhibition of protein degradation, promotes the focus of drug discovery efforts on targeting enzymes upstream of the proteasome for better specificity. E3 ubiquitin ligases, particularly those known to be activated in human cancer, become an attractive choice. Cullin-RING Ligases (CRLs) with multiple components are the largest family of E3 ubiquitin ligases and are responsible for ubiquitination of ~20% of cellular proteins degraded through UPS. Activity of CRLs is dynamically regulated and requires the RING component and cullin neddylation. In this review, we will introduce the UPS and CRL E3s and discuss the biological processes regulated by each of eight CRLs through substrate degradation. We will further discuss how cullin neddylation controls CRL activity, and how CRLs are being validated as the attractive cancer targets by abrogating the RING component through genetic means and by inhibiting cullin neddylation via MLN4924, a small molecule indirect inhibitor of CRLs, currently in several Phase I clinical trials. Finally, we will discuss current efforts and future perspectives on the development of additional inhibitors of CRLs by targeting E2 and/or E3 of cullin neddylation and CRL-mediated ubiquitination as potential anti-cancer agents.
PMCID: PMC4034125  PMID: 23151137
Anticancer targets; autophagy; cullins; CRL/SCF E3 ligase; MLN4924; NEDD8; neddylation; protein degradation; ubiquitin; UPS
7.  Small RING finger proteins RBX1 and RBX2 of SCF E3 ubiquitin ligases: the role in cancer and as cancer targets 
Genes & cancer  2010;1(7):700-707.
The SCF (Skp1-Cullins-F box proteins), also known as CRL (Cullin-based RING ligase), is the largest family of E3 ubiquitin ligases that mediate ~20% ubiquitinated protein substrates for 26S proteasome degradation. Through promoting timely degradation of many key regulatory proteins, SCF E3 ligase controls numerous cellular processes; its dysfunction contributes to a number of human diseases, including cancer. The RING component of SCF complex consists of two family members, RBX1 (RING box protein-1), also known as ROC1 (Regulator of Cullins) and RBX2/ROC2 (also known as SAG, Sensitive to Apoptosis Gene), both of which are essential for the catalytic activity of SCF. RBX1 and RBX2 are evolutionarily conserved from yeast to humans and play an essential role during mouse embryonic development. Moreover, RBX1 and RBX2 are both overexpressed in multiple human cancer tissues and required for the growth and survival of cancer cells. In this review, we will discuss the similarities and differences between two RING family members, their regulation of SCF E3 ligase activity, and their role in development, cancer cell survival and skin carcinogenesis, along with a brief discussion of RBX-SCF E3 ligases as the cancer targets and a recently discovered small molecule inhibitor of SCF E3 ligases as a novel class of anticancer drugs.
doi:10.1177/1947601910382776
PMCID: PMC2983490  PMID: 21103004
Anticancer targets; Protein degradation; Neddylation; RING Box proteins; SCF E3 ubiquitin ligases; Ubiquitin-proteasome system
8.  Small RING Finger Proteins RBX1 and RBX2 of SCF E3 Ubiquitin Ligases 
Genes & Cancer  2010;1(7):700-707.
The SCF (Skp1–cullin–F-box proteins), also known as CRL (cullin-based RING ligase), is the largest family of E3 ubiquitin ligases that mediate approximately 20% ubiquitinated protein substrates for 26S proteasome degradation. Through promoting timely degradation of many key regulatory proteins, SCF E3 ligase controls numerous cellular processes; its dysfunction contributes to a number of human diseases, including cancer. The RING component of SCF complex consists of 2 family members, RBX1 (RING box protein 1), also known as ROC1 (regulator of cullins), and RBX2/ROC2 (also known as SAG [sensitive to apoptosis gene]), both of which are essential for the catalytic activity of SCF. RBX1 and RBX2 are evolutionarily conserved from yeast to humans and play an essential role during mouse embryonic development. Moreover, RBX1 and RBX2 are both overexpressed in multiple human cancer tissues and required for the growth and survival of cancer cells. In this review, we will discuss the similarities and differences between 2 RING family members, their regulation of SCF E3 ligase activity, and their role in development, cancer cell survival, and skin carcinogenesis, along with a brief discussion of RBX-SCF E3 ligases as the cancer targets and a recently discovered small molecule inhibitor of SCF E3 ligases as a novel class of anticancer drugs.
doi:10.1177/1947601910382776
PMCID: PMC2983490  PMID: 21103004
anticancer targets; protein degradation; neddylation; RING box proteins; SCF E3 ubiquitin ligases; ubiquitin-proteasome system
9.  Radiosensitization of Cancer Cells by Inactivation of Cullin-RING E3 Ubiquitin Ligases 
Translational Oncology  2012;5(5):305-312.
Although radiotherapy represents one of the most effective treatment modalities for patients with cancer, inherent and/or acquired resistance of cancer cells to radiotherapy is often an impediment to effective treatment. Diverse strategies have been developed to improve the efficacy of radiotherapy. The ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) operates in numerous vital biologic processes by controlling the protein turnover in cells. Ubiquitination is central to the UPS pathway, and it relies on the E3 ubiquitin ligases to catalyze the covalent attachment of ubiquitin to its protein substrates. Cullin-based RING ligases (CRLs) are the largest family of E3 ligases that are responsible for the ubiquitination and destruction of numerous cancer-relevant proteins. Its deregulation has been linked to many human cancers, making it an attractive target for therapeutic intervention. This review discusses how targeting the ubiquitin-proteasome system, particularly CRLs, is an exciting new strategy for radiosensitization in cancer and, specifically, focuses on MLN4924, a recently discovered small-molecule inhibitor of the NEDD8-activating enzyme, which is being characterized as a novel radiosensitizing agent against cancer cells by inactivating CRL E3 ubiquitin ligases.
PMCID: PMC3468921  PMID: 23066438
10.  Regulation of the Nrf2–Keap1 Antioxidant Response by the Ubiquitin Proteasome System: An Insight into Cullin-Ring Ubiquitin Ligases 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2010;13(11):1699-1712.
Abstract
Nrf2 is a transcription factor that has emerged as the cell's main defense mechanism against many harmful environmental toxicants and carcinogens. Nrf2 is negatively regulated by Keap1, a substrate adaptor protein for the Cullin3 (Cul3)-containing E3-ligase complex, which targets Nrf2 for ubiquitination and degradation by the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS). Recent evidence suggests that constitutive activation of Nrf2, due to mutations in Keap1 or Nrf2, is prominent in many cancer types and contributes to chemoresistance. Regulation of Nrf2 by the Cul3–Keap1-E3 ligase provides strong evidence that tight regulation of Cullin-ring ligases (CRLs) is imperative to maintain cellular homeostasis. There are seven known Cullin proteins that form various CRL complexes. They are regulated by neddylation/deneddylation, ubiquitination/deubiquitination, CAND1-assisted complex assembly/disassembly, and subunit dimerization. In this review, we will discuss the regulation of each CRL using the Cul3–Keap1-E3 ligase complex as the primary focus. The substrates of CRLs are involved in many signaling pathways. Therefore, deregulation of CRLs affects several cellular processes, including cell cycle arrest, DNA repair, cell proliferation, senescence, and death, which may lead to many human diseases, including cancer. This makes CRLs a promising target for novel cancer drug therapies. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 13, 1699–1712.
doi:10.1089/ars.2010.3211
PMCID: PMC2966484  PMID: 20486766
11.  Terminating protein ubiquitination 
Cell Cycle  2011;10(18):3067-3071.
Ubiquitination is a post-translational modification that generally directs proteins for degradation by the proteasome or by lysosomes. However, ubiquitination has been implicated in many other cellular processes, including transcriptional regulation, DNA repair, regulation of protein-protein interactions and association with ubiquitin-binding scaffolds. Ubiquitination is a dynamic process. Ubiquitin is added to proteins by E3 ubiquitin ligases as a covalent modification to one or multiple lysine residues as well as non-lysine amino acids. Ubiquitin itself contains seven lysines, each of which can also be ubiquitinated, leading to polyubiquitin chains that are best characterized for linkages occurring through K48 and K63. Ubiquitination can also be reversed by the action of deubiquitination enzymes (DUbs). Like E3 ligases, DUbs play diverse and critical roles in cells.1 Ubiquitin is expressed as a fusion protein, as a linear repeat or as a fusion to ribosomal subunits, and DUbs are necessary to liberate free ubiquitin, making them the first enzyme of the ubiquitin cascade. Proteins destined for degradation by the proteasome or by lysosomes are deubiquitinated prior to their degradation, which allows ubiquitin to be recycled by the cell, contributing to the steady-state pool of free ubiquitin. Proteins destined for degradation by lysosomes are also acted upon by both ligases and DUbs. Deubiquitination can also act as a means to prevent protein degradation, and many proteins are thought to undergo rounds of ubiquitination and deubiquitination, ultimately resulting in either the degradation or stabilization of those proteins. Despite years of study, examining the effects of the ubiquitination of proteins remains quite challenging. This is because the methods that are currently being employed to study ubiquitination are limiting. Here, we briefly examine current strategies to study the effects of ubiquitination and describe an additional novel approach that we have developed.
doi:10.4161/cc.10.18.17191
PMCID: PMC3685619  PMID: 21926471
ubiquitin; endosome; ligase; lysosome; degradation
12.  E3 ubiquitin ligase-mediated regulation of bone formation and tumorigenesis 
Cell Death & Disease  2013;4(1):e463-.
The ubiquitination–proteasome and degradation system is an essential process that regulates protein homeostasis. This system is involved in the regulation of cell proliferation, differentiation and survival, and dysregulations in this system lead to pathologies including cancers. The ubiquitination system is an enzymatic cascade that mediates the marking of target proteins by an ubiquitin label and thereby directs their degradation through the proteasome pathway. The ubiquitination of proteins occurs through a three-step process involving ubiquitin activation by the E1 enzyme, allowing for the transfer to a ubiquitin-conjugated enzyme E2 and to the targeted protein via ubiquitin-protein ligases (E3), the most abundant group of enzymes involved in ubiquitination. Significant advances have been made in our understanding of the role of E3 ubiquitin ligases in the control of bone turnover and tumorigenesis. These ligases are implicated in the regulation of bone cells through the degradation of receptor tyrosine kinases, signaling molecules and transcription factors. Initial studies showed that the E3 ubiquitin ligase c-Cbl, a multi-domain scaffold protein, regulates bone resorption by interacting with several molecules in osteoclasts. Further studies showed that c-Cbl controls the ubiquitination of signaling molecules in osteoblasts and in turn regulates osteoblast proliferation, differentiation and survival. Recent data indicate that c-Cbl expression is decreased in primary bone tumors, resulting in excessive receptor tyrosine kinase signaling. Consistently, c-Cbl ectopic expression reduces bone tumorigenesis by promoting tyrosine kinase receptor degradation. Here, we review the mechanisms of action of E3 ubiquitin ligases in the regulation of normal and pathologic bone formation, and we discuss how targeting the interactions of c-Cbl with some substrates may be a potential therapeutic strategy to promote osteogenesis and to reduce tumorigenesis.
doi:10.1038/cddis.2012.217
PMCID: PMC3564004  PMID: 23328670
ubiquitin ligases; proteasome; receptor tyrosine kinases; bone tumors; Cbl proteins; ubiquitination
13.  Pathogenic Bacteria Target NEDD8-Conjugated Cullins to Hijack Host-Cell Signaling Pathways 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(9):e1001128.
The cycle inhibiting factors (Cif), produced by pathogenic bacteria isolated from vertebrates and invertebrates, belong to a family of molecules called cyclomodulins that interfere with the eukaryotic cell cycle. Cif blocks the cell cycle at both the G1/S and G2/M transitions by inducing the stabilization of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors p21waf1 and p27kip1. Using yeast two-hybrid screens, we identified the ubiquitin-like protein NEDD8 as a target of Cif. Cif co-compartmentalized with NEDD8 in the host cell nucleus and induced accumulation of NEDD8-conjugated cullins. This accumulation occurred early after cell infection and correlated with that of p21 and p27. Co-immunoprecipitation revealed that Cif interacted with cullin-RING ubiquitin ligase complexes (CRLs) through binding with the neddylated forms of cullins 1, 2, 3, 4A and 4B subunits of CRL. Using an in vitro ubiquitylation assay, we demonstrate that Cif directly inhibits the neddylated CUL1-associated ubiquitin ligase activity. Consistent with this inhibition and the interaction of Cif with several neddylated cullins, we further observed that Cif modulates the cellular half-lives of various CRL targets, which might contribute to the pathogenic potential of diverse bacteria.
Author Summary
Among the arsenal of virulence factors used by bacterial pathogens to infect and manipulate their hosts, cyclomodulins are a growing family of bacterial toxins that interfere with the eukaryotic cell-cycle. Cif is one of these cyclomodulins produced by both mammalian and invertebrate pathogenic bacteria. Cif blocks the host cell cycle by inducing the accumulation of two regulators of cell cycle progression: the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors p21 and p27. To decipher the mode of action of Cif, we performed yeast two-hybrid screenings. We show that Cif binds to NEDD8 and induce accumulation of neddylated cullins early after infection. Cullins are scaffold components of cullin-RING ubiquitin ligases (CRLs), which ubiquitinate proteins and target them for degradation by the 26S proteasome. We demonstrate that Cif directly inhibits the ubiquitin ligase activity of these CRLs and consequently the targeting of p21 and p27 for ubiquitin-dependent degradation. Targeting at NEDD8 represents a novel strategy for modulation of host cell functions by bacterial pathogens. By inhibiting the most prominent class of ubiquitin-ligases, Cif controls the stability of a cohort of key regulators and impinge on not only cell cycle progression but also on many cellular and biological processes such as immunity, development, transcription, and cell signaling.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1001128
PMCID: PMC2947998  PMID: 20941356
14.  USP13 antagonizes gp78 to maintain functionality of a chaperone in ER-associated degradation 
eLife  2014;3:e01369.
Physiological adaptation to proteotoxic stress in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) requires retrotranslocation of misfolded proteins into the cytoplasm for ubiquitination and elimination by ER-associated degradation (ERAD). A surprising paradox emerging from recent studies is that ubiquitin ligases (E3s) and deubiquitinases (DUBs), enzymes with opposing activities, can both promote ERAD. Here we demonstrate that the ERAD E3 gp78 can ubiquitinate not only ERAD substrates, but also the machinery protein Ubl4A, a key component of the Bag6 chaperone complex. Remarkably, instead of targeting Ubl4A for degradation, polyubiquitination is associated with irreversible proteolytic processing and inactivation of Bag6. Importantly, we identify USP13 as a gp78-associated DUB that eliminates ubiquitin conjugates from Ubl4A to maintain the functionality of Bag6. Our study reveals an unexpected paradigm in which a DUB prevents undesired ubiquitination to sharpen substrate specificity for an associated ubiquitin ligase partner and to promote ER quality control.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01369.001
eLife digest
Cells make proteins inside a structure called the endoplasmic reticulum. However, some of these proteins cannot fold into the correct shape, so cells rely on a process called the ERAD pathway to degrade and eliminate these faulty proteins. First, however, the misfolded proteins must be moved from the endoplasmic reticulum to the main body of the cell (the cytosol).
The process by which the misfolded proteins are moved through the membrane that encloses the endoplasmic reticulum is complex, with ‘ERAD machinery proteins’ playing an important role. Among them, a series of enzymes called E3 ligases ‘tag’ the faulty proteins with a small protein called ubiquitin, and a complex called the proteasome then recognizes and degrades those proteins that have been tagged with ubiquitin. However, it is not clear why the E3 ligases that tag the misfolded proteins with ubiquitin don’t also tag the machinery proteins that from complexes with the faulty proteins.
Now Liu et al. have used a combination of biochemical and genetic tools to shed light on this puzzle by studying the interaction of gp78—which is an E3 ligase—and USP13, an enzyme that opposes the actions of the E3 ligases by removing ubiquitin. Liu et al. showed that gp78 can indeed tag certain machinery proteins with ubiquitin, which would stop the removal of misfolded proteins from the endoplasmic reticulum. However, USP13 opposed the action of gp78, thus allowing the removal to continue.
It has been known for some time that enzymes with opposing roles—the addition and removal of ubiquitin—can work together, but the biological significance of this phenomenon was not fully understood. The work of Liu et al. suggests that USP13 makes the elimination of misfolded proteins more efficient by ensuring that gp78 only tags those proteins that are misfolded: it does this by removing ubiquitin from proteins that should not have been tagged. A similar phenomenon is known to occur in genetics during DNA replication, with the enzyme complex that replicates the DNA including an enzyme that performs a proofreading role.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01369.002
doi:10.7554/eLife.01369
PMCID: PMC3889402  PMID: 24424410
ubiquitin; ERAD; deubiquitinase; ubiquitin ligase; Bag6; gp78; Human
15.  A Cullin1-Based SCF E3 Ubiquitin Ligase Targets the InR/PI3K/TOR Pathway to Regulate Neuronal Pruning 
PLoS Biology  2013;11(9):e1001657.
Pruning that selectively eliminates unnecessary axons/dendrites is crucial for sculpting the nervous system during development. During Drosophila metamorphosis, dendrite arborization neurons, ddaCs, selectively prune their larval dendrites in response to the steroid hormone ecdysone, whereas mushroom body γ neurons specifically eliminate their axon branches within dorsal and medial lobes. However, it is unknown which E3 ligase directs these two modes of pruning. Here, we identified a conserved SCF E3 ubiquitin ligase that plays a critical role in pruning of both ddaC dendrites and mushroom body γ axons. The SCF E3 ligase consists of four core components Cullin1/Roc1a/SkpA/Slimb and promotes ddaC dendrite pruning downstream of EcR-B1 and Sox14, but independently of Mical. Moreover, we demonstrate that the Cullin1-based E3 ligase facilitates ddaC dendrite pruning primarily through inactivation of the InR/PI3K/TOR pathway. We show that the F-box protein Slimb forms a complex with Akt, an activator of the InR/PI3K/TOR pathway, and promotes Akt ubiquitination. Activation of the InR/PI3K/TOR pathway is sufficient to inhibit ddaC dendrite pruning. Thus, our findings provide a novel link between the E3 ligase and the InR/PI3K/TOR pathway during dendrite pruning.
Author Summary
Neurons have the ability to engage in selective pruning that eliminates unnecessary axons/dendrites. This process is crucial for sculpting the nervous system during development. During Drosophila development, dendrite arborization sensory neurons (ddaCs) selectively prune their larval dendrites in response to the molting steroid hormone ecdysone, whereas mushroom body γ neurons eliminate their axon branches. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms for both of these modes of pruning were not well understood. Here, we conduct a genome-wide screen and identify a conserved E3 ubiquitin ligase that is critical for pruning both ddaC dendrites and mushroom body γ axons. This ligase complex has four core components—Cullin1, Roc1a, SkpA, and Slimb—that promote ddaC dendrite pruning in response to ecdysone. We show that this ligase facilitates ddaC dendrite pruning through regulation of the InR/PI3K/TOR pathway. The substrate-recognition protein Slimb promotes ubiquitination of Akt, an activator of the InR/PI3K/TOR pathway. Akt ubiquitination leads to its degradation and inactivation of the InR/PI3K/TOR pathway, which is required for dendritic pruning. Consistent with this, ddaC dendrite pruning is inhibited when the InR/PI3K/TOR pathway is activated. Thus, we identify a link between the Cullin1-based E3 ligase and the InR/PI3K/TOR pathway in regulating dendrite pruning. This work represents the first link between neuronal pruning and the insulin signaling pathway, raising interesting questions about how metabolic states may influence the control of such developmental processes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001657
PMCID: PMC3775723  PMID: 24068890
16.  Ubiquitin-Mediated Response to Microsporidia and Virus Infection in C. elegans 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(6):e1004200.
Microsporidia comprise a phylum of over 1400 species of obligate intracellular pathogens that can infect almost all animals, but little is known about the host response to these parasites. Here we use the whole-animal host C. elegans to show an in vivo role for ubiquitin-mediated response to the microsporidian species Nematocida parisii, as well to the Orsay virus, another natural intracellular pathogen of C. elegans. We analyze gene expression of C. elegans in response to N. parisii, and find that it is similar to response to viral infection. Notably, we find an upregulation of SCF ubiquitin ligase components, such as the cullin ortholog cul-6, which we show is important for ubiquitin targeting of N. parisii cells in the intestine. We show that ubiquitylation components, the proteasome, and the autophagy pathway are all important for defense against N. parisii infection. We also find that SCF ligase components like cul-6 promote defense against viral infection, where they have a more robust role than against N. parisii infection. This difference may be due to suppression of the host ubiquitylation system by N. parisii: when N. parisii is crippled by anti-microsporidia drugs, the host can more effectively target pathogen cells for ubiquitylation. Intriguingly, inhibition of the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) increases expression of infection-upregulated SCF ligase components, indicating that a trigger for transcriptional response to intracellular infection by N. parisii and virus may be perturbation of the UPS. Altogether, our results demonstrate an in vivo role for ubiquitin-mediated defense against microsporidian and viral infections in C. elegans.
Author Summary
Microbial pathogens have two distinct lifestyles: some pathogens live outside of host cells, and others live inside of host cells and are called intracellular pathogens. Microsporidia are fungal-related intracellular pathogens that can infect all animals, but are poorly understood. We used the roundworm C. elegans as a host to show that ubiquitin pathways provide defense against both a natural microsporidian infection of C. elegans, as well as a natural viral infection. Our study shows that ubiquitin, the proteasome and autophagy components are all important to control intracellular infection in C. elegans, although microsporidia seem to partially evade this defense. We also show that SCF ubiquitin ligases help control both microsporidia and virus infection. Furthermore, we find that C. elegans upregulates expression of SCF ligases when ubiquitin-related degradation machinery is inhibited, indicating that C. elegans monitors the functioning of this core cellular process and upregulates ligase expression when it is perturbed. Altogether, our findings describe ubiquitin-mediated pathways that are involved in host response and defense against intracellular pathogens, and how this machinery is regulated by infection to increase defense against intracellular pathogens such as microsporidia and viruses.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004200
PMCID: PMC4063957  PMID: 24945527
17.  Changes in the ratio of free NEDD8 to ubiquitin triggers NEDDylation by ubiquitin enzymes 
Biochemical Journal  2012;441(Pt 3):927-936.
Ubiquitin and UBL (ubiquitin-like) modifiers are small proteins that covalently modify other proteins to alter their properties or behaviours. Ubiquitin modification (ubiquitylation) targets many substrates, often leading to their proteasomal degradation. NEDD8 (neural-precursor-cell-expressed developmentally down-regulated 8) is the UBL most closely related to ubiquitin, and its best-studied role is the activation of CRLs (cullin-RING ubiquitin ligases) by its conjugation to a conserved C-terminal lysine residue on cullin proteins. The attachment of UBLs requires three UBL-specific enzymes, termed E1, E2 and E3, which are usually well insulated from parallel UBL pathways. In the present study, we report a new mode of NEDD8 conjugation (NEDDylation) whereby the UBL NEDD8 is linked to proteins by ubiquitin enzymes in vivo. We found that this atypical NEDDylation is independent of classical NEDD8 enzymes, conserved from yeast to mammals, and triggered by an increase in the NEDD8 to ubiquitin ratio. In cells, NEDD8 overexpression leads to this type of NEDDylation by increasing the concentration of NEDD8, whereas proteasome inhibition has the same effect by depleting free ubiquitin. We show that bortezomib, a proteasome inhibitor used in cancer therapy, triggers atypical NEDDylation in tissue culture, which suggests that a similar process may occur in patients receiving this treatment.
doi:10.1042/BJ20111671
PMCID: PMC3280039  PMID: 22004789
bortezomib; MG132; MLN4924; neural-precursor-cell-expressed developmentally down-regulated 8 (NEDD8)-activating enzyme (NAE); proteasome; ubiquitinactivating enzyme; BCA3, breast cancer-associated gene 3; CHO, Chinese-hamster ovary; CRL, cullin-RING ubiquitin ligase; EGFR, epidermal growth factor receptor; FBS, fetal bovine serum; HA, haemagglutinin; HRP, horseradish peroxidase; LDS, lithium dodecyl sulfate; NAE, NEDD8-activating enzyme; NEDD8, neural-precursor-cell-expressed developmentally down-regulated 8; siRNA, small interfering RNA; SUMO, small ubiquitin-like modifier; TCA, trichloroacetic acid; UBL, ubiquitin-like; WT, wild-type
18.  Mechanism of ubiquitin ligation and lysine prioritization by a HECT E3 
eLife  2013;2:e00828.
Ubiquitination by HECT E3 enzymes regulates myriad processes, including tumor suppression, transcription, protein trafficking, and degradation. HECT E3s use a two-step mechanism to ligate ubiquitin to target proteins. The first step is guided by interactions between the catalytic HECT domain and the E2∼ubiquitin intermediate, which promote formation of a transient, thioester-bonded HECT∼ubiquitin intermediate. Here we report that the second step of ligation is mediated by a distinct catalytic architecture established by both the HECT E3 and its covalently linked ubiquitin. The structure of a chemically trapped proxy for an E3∼ubiquitin-substrate intermediate reveals three-way interactions between ubiquitin and the bilobal HECT domain orienting the E3∼ubiquitin thioester bond for ligation, and restricting the location of the substrate-binding domain to prioritize target lysines for ubiquitination. The data allow visualization of an E2-to-E3-to-substrate ubiquitin transfer cascade, and show how HECT-specific ubiquitin interactions driving multiple reactions are repurposed by a major E3 conformational change to promote ligation.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.00828.001
eLife digest
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be covalently linked to other, ‘target’, proteins in a cell to influence their behavior. Ubiquitin can be linked to its targets either as single copies or as polyubiquitin chains in which several ubiquitin molecules are bound end-on-end to each other, with one end of the chain attached to the target protein. A multi-step cascade involving enzymes known as E1, E2, and E3 adds ubiquitin to its targets. These enzymes function in a manner like runners in a relay, with ubiquitin a baton that is passed from E1 to E2 to E3 to the target.
The E3 enzyme is a ligase that catalyzes the formation of a new chemical bond between a ubiquitin and its target. There are approximately 600 different E3 enzymes in human cells that regulate a wide variety of target proteins. A major class of E3 enzymes, called HECT E3s, attaches ubiquitin to its targets in a unique two-step mechanism: the E2 enzymes covalently link a ubiquitin to a HECT E3 to form a complex that subsequently transfers the ubiquitin to its target protein. The ubiquitin is typically added to a particular amino acid, lysine, on the target protein, but the details of how HECT E3s execute this transfer are not well understood. To address this issue, Kamadurai et al. investigate how Rsp5, a HECT E3 ligase in yeast, attaches ubiquitin to a target protein called Sna3.
All HECT E3s have a domain—the HECT domain—that catalyzes the transfer of ubiquitin to its target protein. This domain consists of two sub-structures: the C-lobe, which can receive ubiquitin from E2 and then itself become linked to ubiquitin, and the N-lobe. These lobes were previously thought to adopt various orientations relative to each other to deliver ubiquitin to sites on different target proteins (including to multiple lysines on a single target protein). Unexpectedly, Kamadurai et al. find that in order to transfer the ubiquitin to Sna3, Rsp5 adopts a discrete HECT domain architecture that creates an active site in which parts of the C-lobe and the N-lobe, which are normally separated, are brought together with a ubiquitin molecule. This architecture also provides a mechanism that dictates which substrate lysines can be ubiquitinated based on how accessible they are to this active site.
The same regions of Rsp5 transfer ubiquitin to targets other than Sna3, suggesting that a uniform mechanism—which Kamadurai et al. show is conserved in two related human HECT E3 ligases—might transfer ubiquitin to all its targets. These studies therefore represent a significant step toward understanding how a major class of E3 enzymes modulates the functions of their targets.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.00828.002
doi:10.7554/eLife.00828
PMCID: PMC3738095  PMID: 23936628
ubiquitin; HECT; E3 ligase; E2 conjugating enzyme; NEDD4; Rsp5; S. cerevisiae
19.  Diggin’ on U(biquitin): A Novel Method for the Identification of Physiological E3 Ubiquitin Ligase Substrates 
Cell biochemistry and biophysics  2013;67(1):127-138.
The ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) plays a central role in maintaining protein homeostasis, emphasized by a myriad of diseases that are associated with altered UPS function such as cancer, muscle-wasting, and neurodegeneration. Protein ubiquitination plays a central role in both the promotion of proteasomal degradation as well as cellular signaling through regulation of the stability of transcription factors and other signaling molecules. Substrate specificity is a critical regulatory step of ubiquitination and is mediated by ubiquitin ligases. Recent studies implicate ubiquitin ligases in multiple models of cardiac diseases such as cardiac hypertrophy, atrophy, and ischemia/reperfusion injury, both in a cardioprotective and maladaptive role. Therefore, identifying physiological substrates of cardiac ubiquitin ligases provides both mechanistic insights into heart disease as well as possible therapeutic targets. Current methods identifying substrates for ubiquitin ligases rely heavily upon non-physiologic in vitro methods, impeding the unbiased discovery of physiological substrates in relevant model systems. Here we describe a novel method for identifying ubiquitin ligase substrates utilizing Tandem Ubiquitin Binding Entities (TUBE) technology, two-dimensional differential in gel electrophoresis (2-D DIGE), and mass spectrometry, validated by the identification of both known and novel physiological substrates of the ubiquitin ligase MuRF1 in primary cardiomyocytes. This method can be applied to any ubiquitin ligase, both in normal and disease model systems, in order to identify relevant physiological substrates under various biological conditions, opening the door to a clearer mechanistic understanding of ubiquitin ligase function and broadening their potential as therapeutic targets.
doi:10.1007/s12013-013-9624-6
PMCID: PMC3758785  PMID: 23695782
ubiquitin; ubiquitin-proteasome system; E3; ubiquitin ligase; substrate screen; proteomics; tandem ubiquitin binding entities
20.  Spontaneous Seizures and Altered Gene Expression in GABA Signaling Pathways in a mind bomb Mutant Zebrafish 
Disruption of E3 ubiquitin ligase activity in immature zebrafish mind bomb mutants, leads to a failure in Notch signaling, excessive numbers of neurons, and depletion of neural progenitor cells. This neurogenic phenotype is associated with defects in neural patterning and brain development. Because developmental brain abnormalities are recognized as an important feature of childhood neurological disorders such as epilepsy and autism, we determined whether zebrafish mutants with grossly abnormal brain structure exhibit spontaneous electrical activity that resembles the long-duration, high-amplitude multi-spike discharges reported in immature zebrafish exposed to convulsant drugs. Electrophysiological recordings from agar immobilized mind bomb mutants at three days postfertilization (dpf) confirmed the occurrence of electrographic seizure activity; seizure-like behaviors were also noted during locomotion video tracking of freely behaving mutants. To identify genes differentially expressed in the mind bomb mutant and provide insight into molecular pathways that may mediate these epileptic phenotypes, a transcriptome analysis was performed using microarray. Interesting candidate genes were further analyzed using conventional reverse transcriptasepolymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR), as well as whole-mount in situ hybridization. Approximately 150 genes, some implicated in development, transcription, cell metabolism and signal transduction, are differentially regulated including down-regulation of several genes necessary for GABA-mediated signaling. These findings identify a collection of gene transcripts that may be responsible for the abnormal electrical discharge and epileptic activities observed in a mind bomb zebrafish mutant. This work may have important implications for neurological and neurodevelopmental disorders associated with mutations in ubiquitin ligase activity.
Notch is an essential component of an evolutionarily conserved signal transduction cascade mediating development. In neuroectoderm, where cells have the potential to become neurons, activated Notch inhibits proneural gene expression in a process referred to as lateral inhibition. In the absence of Notch-mediated lateral inhibition, too many early-born cells differentiate into neurons (Chitnis et al., 1995; de la Pompa et al., 1997). Recent studies identified several E3 ligases that modulate Notch signaling through ubiquitin-dependent protein degradation and endocytosis (Lai, 2002). Ubiquitination, which occurs when an E3 ligase enzyme binds to both substrate and an E2 thioesterified protein (Deshaies and Joazeiro, 2009), is a key mechanism regulating many cellular processes. Mutation or small deletions within the ubiquitin E3A ligase gene in humans has been linked to autism spectrum disorders (Glessner et al., 2009) and Angelman syndrome, a neurogenetic disorder characterized by developmental delay, severe intellectual disability, absent speech, exuberant behavior, motor impairment, and epilepsy (Clayton-Smith and Laan, 2003).
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1887-10.2010
PMCID: PMC2962868  PMID: 20943912
seizure; epilepsy; extracellular recording; GABA; GAD; telencephalon
21.  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.
doi:10.1016/j.molonc.2012.01.003
PMCID: PMC3826113  PMID: 22306028
Ubiquitination; SCF complex; NEDD8; MLN4924; Ubc12; NUB1
22.  Functional characterization of SAG/RBX2/ROC2/RNF7, an antioxidant protein and an E3 ubiquitin ligase 
Protein & cell  2012;4(2):103-116.
SAG (Sensitive to Apoptosis Gene), also known as RBX2 (RING box protein 2), ROC2 (Regulator of Cullins 2), or RNF7 (RING Finger Protein 7), was originally cloned in our laboratory as a redox inducible antioxidant protein and later characterized as the second member of the RBX/ROC RING component of the SCF (SKP1-CUL-F-box Proteins) E3 ubiquitin ligase. When acting alone, SAG scavenges oxygen radicals by forming inter- and intra- molecular disulfide bonds, whereas by forming a complex with other components of the SCF E3 ligase, SAG promotes ubiquitination and degradation of a number of protein substrates, including c-JUN, DEPTOR, HIF-1α, IκBα, NF1, NOXA, p27, and procaspase-3, thus regulating various signaling pathways and biological processes. Specifically, SAG protects cells from apoptosis, confers radioresistance, and plays an essential and non-redundant role in mouse embryogenesis and vasculogenesis. Furthermore, stress-inducible SAG is overexpressed in a number of human cancers and SAG overexpression correlates with poor patient prognosis. Finally, SAG transgenic expression in epidermis causes an early stage inhibition, but later stage promotion, of skin tumorigenesis triggered by DMBA/TPA. Given its major role in promoting targeted degradation of tumor suppressive proteins, leading to apoptosis suppression and accelerated tumorigenesis, SAG E3 ligase appears to be an attractive anticancer target.
doi:10.1007/s13238-012-2105-7
PMCID: PMC3888511  PMID: 23136067
antioxidant; angiogenesis; apoptosis; Cullin-RING ligases; radiation resistance; reactive oxygen
23.  The Ubiquitin/Proteasome System Mediates Entry and Endosomal Trafficking of Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus in Endothelial Cells 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(5):e1002703.
Ubiquitination, a post-translational modification, mediates diverse cellular functions including endocytic transport of molecules. Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), an enveloped herpesvirus, enters endothelial cells primarily through clathrin-mediated endocytosis. Whether ubiquitination and proteasome activity regulates KSHV entry and endocytosis remains unknown. We showed that inhibition of proteasome activity reduced KSHV entry into endothelial cells and intracellular trafficking to nuclei, thus preventing KSHV infection of the cells. Three-dimensional (3-D) analyses revealed accumulation of KSHV particles in a cytoplasmic compartment identified as EEA1+ endosomal vesicles upon proteasome inhibition. KSHV particles are colocalized with ubiquitin-binding proteins epsin and eps15. Furthermore, ubiquitination mediates internalization of both KSHV and one of its receptors integrin β1. KSHV particles are colocalized with activated forms of the E3 ligase c-Cbl. Knock-down of c-Cbl or inhibition of its phosphorylation reduced viral entry and intracellular trafficking, resulting in decreased KSHV infectivity. These results demonstrate that ubiquitination mediates internalization of both KSHV and one of its cognate receptors integrin β1, and identify c-Cbl as a potential E3 ligase that facilitates this process.
Author Summary
Ubiquitination, a post-translational modification, mediates important cellular functions including endocytic transport of molecules. Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is a gammaherpesvirus linked to the development of Kaposi's sarcoma, an endothelial malignancy commonly found in AIDS patients, and several other malignancies. KSHV enters endothelial cells primarily through clathrin-mediated endocytosis. In this study, we show that the proteasome activity is required for KSHV entry into endothelial cells and intracellular trafficking to nuclei. Inhibition of proteasome activity reduced KSHV infectivity and led to the accumulation of KSHV particles in EEA1+ early endosomal vesicles. Furthermore, we show that ubiquitination mediates the internalization of both KSHV and one of its receptors integrin β1. KSHV particles are colocalized with ubiquitin-binding proteins epsin and eps15, as well as activated forms of the E3 ligase c-Cbl. Knock-down of c-Cbl or inhibition of its phosphorylation blocked KSHV entry and trafficking, thus preventing KSHV infection of endothelial cells. Together, these results illustrate the essential role of ubiquitination during the internalization of KSHV and its cognate receptor integrin β1. The identification of an E3 ligase that mediates the ubiquitination of KSHV and its cognate receptor integrin β1 leading to viral entry provide a potential therapeutic target for this oncogenic virus.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002703
PMCID: PMC3355089  PMID: 22615563
24.  Wrenches in the works: drug discovery targeting the SCF ubiquitin ligase and APC/C complexes 
BMC Biochemistry  2007;8(Suppl 1):S9.
Recently, the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS) has matured as a drug discovery arena, largely on the strength of the proven clinical activity of the proteasome inhibitor Velcade in multiple myeloma. Ubiquitin ligases tag cellular proteins, such as oncogenes and tumor suppressors, with ubiquitin. Once tagged, these proteins are degraded by the proteasome. The specificity of this degradation system for particular substrates lies with the E3 component of the ubiquitin ligase system (ubiquitin is transferred from an E1 enzyme to an E2 enzyme and finally, thanks to an E3 enzyme, directly to a specific substrate). The clinical effectiveness of Velcade (as it theoretically should inhibit the output of all ubiquitin ligases active in the cell simultaneously) suggests that modulating specific ubiquitin ligases could result in an even better therapeutic ratio. At present, the only ubiquitin ligase leads that have been reported inhibit the degradation of p53 by Mdm2, but these have not yet been developed into clinical therapeutics. In this review, we discuss the biological rationale, assays, genomics, proteomics and three-dimensional structures pertaining to key targets within the UPS (SCFSkp2 and APC/C) in order to assess their drug development potential.
Publication history: Republished from Current BioData's Targeted Proteins database (TPdb; ).
doi:10.1186/1471-2091-8-S1-S9
PMCID: PMC2106342  PMID: 18047746
25.  Degradation of Phosphorylated p53 by Viral Protein-ECS E3 Ligase Complex 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(7):e1000530.
p53-signaling is modulated by viruses to establish a host cellular environment advantageous for their propagation. The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) lytic program induces phosphorylation of p53, which prevents interaction with MDM2. Here, we show that induction of EBV lytic program leads to degradation of p53 via an ubiquitin-proteasome pathway independent of MDM2. The BZLF1 protein directly functions as an adaptor component of the ECS (Elongin B/C-Cul2/5-SOCS-box protein) ubiquitin ligase complex targeting p53 for degradation. Intringuingly, C-terminal phosphorylation of p53 resulting from activated DNA damage response by viral lytic replication enhances its binding to BZLF1 protein. Purified BZLF1 protein-associated ECS could be shown to catalyze ubiquitination of phospho-mimetic p53 more efficiently than the wild-type in vitro. The compensation of p53 at middle and late stages of the lytic infection inhibits viral DNA replication and production during lytic infection, suggesting that the degradation of p53 is required for efficient viral propagation. Taken together, these findings demonstrate a role for the BZLF1 protein-associated ECS ligase complex in regulation of p53 phosphorylated by activated DNA damage signaling during viral lytic infection.
Author Summary
Inhibition of p53-mediated transactivation is essential for regulating the cellular environment advantageous for viral infection. Specially, DNA viruses target p53 for inactivation through the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. The E6 protein of the high-risk human papillomaviruses and the cellular ubiquitin-protein ligase E6AP form a complex which causes ubiquitination and degradation of p53. The adenovirus E1B 55-kDa protein binds to both p53 and E4orf6, and recruits a Cullin-containing complex to direct the ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis of p53. However, in comparison with the effects of the smaller DNA viruses, much less is known regarding the precise mechanisms whereby the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) inhibits functions of p53. EBV possesses two alternative life cycles, latent and lytic replication. In latent phase, p53 is regulated by MDM2 ubiquitin ligase while after induction of lytic replication p53 is phosphorylated and the level of activated p53 is regulated by a novel system independent of MDM2. This report describes a unique functional role of the BZLF1 protein encoded by EBV in the modulation of activated p53. In this pathway, BZLF1 protein serves as an adaptor molecule for both Cul2- and Cul5-containing E3 ubiquitin ligase complexes to stimulate the ubiquitination and degradation of p53 for inhibiting apoptosis, indicating redundancy in the EBV machinery to downregulate p53 level. Therefore, it would be possible that the complexes regulate not only p53 but also various proteins that interact with BZLF1 protein.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000530
PMCID: PMC2712087  PMID: 19649319

Results 1-25 (1318851)