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1.  Mechanism of Cullin3 E3 Ubiquitin Ligase Dimerization 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41350.
Cullin E3 ligases are the largest family of ubiquitin ligases with diverse cellular functions. One of seven cullin proteins serves as a scaffold protein for the assembly of the multisubunit ubiquitin ligase complex. Cullin binds the RING domain protein Rbx1/Rbx2 via its C-terminus and a cullin-specific substrate adaptor protein via its N-terminus. In the Cul3 ubiquitin ligase complex, Cul3 substrate receptors contain a BTB/POZ domain. Several studies have established that Cul3-based E3 ubiquitin ligases exist in a dimeric state which is required for binding of a number of substrates and has been suggested to promote ubiquitin transfer. In two different models, Cul3 has been proposed to dimerize either via BTB/POZ domain dependent substrate receptor homodimerization or via direct interaction between two Cul3 proteins that is mediated by Nedd8 modification of one of the dimerization partners. In this study, we show that the majority of the Cul3 proteins in cells exist as dimers or multimers and that Cul3 self-association is mediated via the Cul3 N-terminus while the Cul3 C-terminus is not required. Furthermore, we show that Cul3 self-association is independent of its modification with Nedd8. Our results provide evidence for BTB substrate receptor dependent Cul3 dimerization which is likely to play an important role in promoting substrate ubiquitination.
PMCID: PMC3401178  PMID: 22911784
2.  Cul4B regulates neural progenitor cell growth 
BMC Neuroscience  2012;13:112.
Cullin ubiquitin ligases are activated via the covalent modification of Cullins by the small ubiquitin-like protein nedd8 in a process called neddylation. Genetic mutations of cullin-4b (cul4b) cause a prevalent type of X-linked intellectual disability (XLID) in males, but the physiological function of Cul4B in neuronal cells remains unclear.
There are three major isoforms of Cul4B (1, 2, and 3) in human and rodent tissues. By examining the endogenous Cul4B isoforms in the brain, this study demonstrates that Cul4B-1 and Cul4B-2 isoforms are unneddylated and more abundant in the brain whereas the lesser species Cul4B-3 that misses the N-terminus present in the other two isoforms is neddylated. The data suggest that the N-terminus of Cul4B inhibits neddylation in the larger isoforms. Immunostaining of human NT-2 cells also shows that most Cul4B is unneddylated, especially when it is localized in the process in G0-synchronized cells. This study demonstrates that Cul4B accumulates during mitosis and downregulation of Cul4B arrests NPCs and NT-2 cells in the G2/M phase of the cell cycle. In both human and rodent brain tissues, Cul4B-positive cells accumulate β-catenin in the dentate subgranular zone and the subventricular zone. These Cul4B-positive cells also co-express the MPM-2 mitotic epitope, suggesting that Cul4B is also necessary for mitosis progression in vivo.
This study provides first evidence that unneddylated Cul4B isoforms exist in the brain and are necessary for mitosis progression in NPCs. The data suggest that unneddylated Cul4B isoforms specifically inhibits β-catenin degradation during mitosis. Furthermore, unneddylated Cul4B may play a role in addition to cell cycle since it is exclusively localized to the processes in starved NT-2 cells. Further analyses of the different isoforms of Cul4B will help understand the cognitive deficits in Cul4B-linked XLID and give insights into drug and biomarker discoveries.
PMCID: PMC3506489  PMID: 22992378
Cullin; Neurogenesis; Ubiquitination; Neddylation; Mental retardation; β-catenin
3.  Structural basis for a reciprocal regulation between SCF and CSN 
Cell reports  2012;2(3):616-627.
SCF (Skp1-Cul1-Fboxes) E3 ligases are activated by ligation to the ubiquitin-like protein Nedd8, which is reversed by the deneddylating Cop9 Signalosome (CSN). However, CSN also promotes SCF substrate turnover through unknown mechanisms. Through biochemical and electron microscopy analyses, we determined molecular models of CSN complexes with SCFSkp2/Cks1 and SCFFbw7 and found that CSN occludes both SCF functional sites – the catalytic Rbx1-Cul1 C-terminal domain and the substrate receptor. Indeed, CSN binding prevents SCF interactions with E2 enzymes and a ubiquitination substrate, and inhibits SCF-catalyzed ubiquitin chain formation independent of deneddylation. Importantly, CSN prevents neddylation of the bound cullin, unless binding of a ubiquitination substrate triggers SCF dissociation and neddylation. Taken together, the results provide a model for how reciprocal regulation sensitizes CSN to the SCF assembly state, and inhibits a catalytically-competent SCF until a ubiquitination substrate drives its own degradation by displacing CSN, thereby promoting cullin neddylation and substrate ubiquitination.
PMCID: PMC3703508  PMID: 22959436
4.  Structural Insights into NEDD8 Activation of Cullin-RING Ligases: Conformational Control of Conjugation 
Cell  2008;134(6):995-1006.
Cullin-RING Ligases (CRLs) comprise the largest ubiquitin E3 subclass, in which a central cullin subunit links a substrate-binding adaptor with an E2-binding RING. Covalent attachment of the ubiquitin-like protein NEDD8 to a conserved C-terminal domain (ctd) lysine stimulates CRL ubiquitination activity and prevents binding of the inhibitor CAND1. Here we report striking conformational rearrangements in the crystal structure of NEDD8~Cul5ctd-Rbx1 and SAXS analysis of NEDD8~Cul1ctd-Rbx1 relative to their unmodified counterparts. In NEDD8ylated CRL structures, the cullin WHB and Rbx1 RING subdomains are dramatically reoriented, eliminating a CAND1-binding site and imparting multiple potential catalytic geometries to an associated E2. Biochemical analyses indicate that the structural malleability is important for both CRL NEDD8ylation and subsequent ubiquitination activities. Thus, our results point to a conformational control of CRL activity, with ligation of NEDD8 shifting equilibria to disfavor inactive CAND1-bound closed architectures, and favor dynamic, open forms that promote polyubiquitination.
PMCID: PMC2628631  PMID: 18805092
5.  C. elegans CAND-1 regulates cullin neddylation, cell proliferation and morphogenesis in specific tissues 
Developmental biology  2010;346(1):113-126.
Cullin-RING ubiquitin ligases (CRLs) are critical regulators of multiple developmental and cellular processes in eukaryotes. CAND1 is a biochemical inhibitor of CRLs, yet has been shown to promote CRL activity in plant and mammalian cells. Here we analyze CAND1 function in the context of a developing metazoan organism. C. elegans CAND-1 is capable of binding to all of the cullins, and we show that it physically interacts with CUL-2 and CUL-4 in vivo. The covalent attachment of the ubiquitin-like protein Nedd8 is required for cullin activity in animals and plants. In cand-1 mutants, the levels of the neddylated isoforms of CUL-2 and CUL-4 are increased, indicating that CAND-1 is a negative regulator of cullin neddylation. cand-1 mutants are hypersensitive to the partial loss of cullin activity, suggesting that CAND-1 facilitates CRL functions. cand-1 mutants exhibit impenetrant phenotypes, including developmental arrest, morphological defects of the vulva and tail, and reduced fecundity. cand-1 mutants share with cul-1 and lin-23 mutants the phenotypes of supernumerary seam cell divisions, defective alae formation, and the accumulation of the SCFLIN-23 target the glutamate receptor GLR-1. The observation that cand-1 mutants have phenotypes associated with the loss of the SCFLIN-23 complex, but lack phenotypes associated with other specific CRL complexes, suggests that CAND-1 is differentially required for the activity of distinct CRL complexes.
PMCID: PMC2955628  PMID: 20659444
CAND1; CRL; cullin; Nedd8; neddylation; ubiquitin ligase; seam cells
6.  The TFIIH subunit Tfb3 regulates cullin neddylation 
Molecular cell  2011;43(3):488-495.
Cullin proteins are scaffolds for the assembly of multi-subunit ubiquitin ligases, which ubiquitylate a large number of proteins involved in widely-varying cellular functions. Multiple mechanisms cooperate to regulate cullin activity, including neddylation of their C-terminal domain. Interestingly, we found that the yeast Cul4-type cullin Rtt101 is not only neddylated but also ubiquitylated, and both modifications promote Rtt101 function in vivo. Surprisingly, proper modification of Rtt101 neither correlated with catalytic activity of the RING-domain of Hrt1 nor did it require the Nedd8 ligase Dcn1. Instead, ubiquitylation of Rtt101 was dependent on the ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme Ubc4, while efficient neddylation involves the RING-domain protein Tfb3, a subunit of the transcription factor TFIIH. Tfb3 also controls Cul3 neddylation and activity in vivo, and physically interacts with Ubc4 and the Nedd8-conjugating enzyme Ubc12 as well as the Hrt1/Rtt101 complex. Together, these results suggest that the conserved RING-domain protein Tfb3 controls activation of a subset of cullins.
PMCID: PMC3186349  PMID: 21816351
7.  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
8.  Essential Role for the d-Asb11 cul5 Box Domain for Proper Notch Signaling and Neural Cell Fate Decisions In Vivo 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e14023.
ECS (Elongin BC-Cul2/Cul5-SOCS-box protein) ubiquitin ligases recruit substrates to E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzymes through a SOCS-box protein substrate receptor, an Elongin BC adaptor and a cullin (Cul2 or Cul5) scaffold which interacts with the RING protein. In vitro studies have shown that the conserved amino acid sequence of the cullin box in SOCS-box proteins is required for complex formation and function. However, the in vivo importance of cullin boxes has not been addressed. To explore the biological functions of the cullin box domain of ankyrin repeat and SOCS-box containing protein 11 (d-Asb11), a key mediator of canonical Delta-Notch signaling, we isolated a zebrafish mutant lacking the Cul5 box (Asb11Cul). We found that homozygous zebrafish mutants for this allele were defective in Notch signaling as indicated by the impaired expression of Notch target genes. Importantly, asb11Cul fish were not capable to degrade the Notch ligand DeltaA during embryogenesis, a process essential for the initiation of Notch signaling during neurogenesis. Accordingly, proper cell fate specification within the neurogenic regions of the zebrafish embryo was impaired. In addition, Asb11Cul mRNA was defective in the ability to transactivate a her4::gfp reporter DNA when injected in embryos. Thus, our study reporting the generation and the characterization of a metazoan organism mutant in the conserved cullin binding domain of the SOCS-box demonstrates a hitherto unrecognized importance of the SOCS-box domain for the function of this class of cullin-RING ubiquitin ligases and establishes that the d-Asb11 cullin box is required for both canonical Notch signaling and proper neurogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2988792  PMID: 21124961
9.  Structural Basis for Cul3 Protein Assembly with the BTB-Kelch Family of E3 Ubiquitin Ligases* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2013;288(11):7803-7814.
Background: BTB-Kelch proteins, including KLHL11, are proposed to bind Cul3 through a “3-box” motif to form E3 ubiquitin ligases.
Results: We solved crystal structures of the KLHL11-Cul3 complex and four Kelch domains.
Conclusion: The 3-box forms a hydrophobic groove that binds a specific N-terminal extension of Cul3.
Significance: Dimeric BTB-Kelch proteins bind two Cul3 molecules and support a two-site model for substrate recognition.
Cullin-RING ligases are multisubunit E3 ubiquitin ligases that recruit substrate-specific adaptors to catalyze protein ubiquitylation. Cul3-based Cullin-RING ligases are uniquely associated with BTB adaptors that incorporate homodimerization, Cul3 assembly, and substrate recognition into a single multidomain protein, of which the best known are BTB-BACK-Kelch domain proteins, including KEAP1. Cul3 assembly requires a BTB protein “3-box” motif, analogous to the F-box and SOCS box motifs of other Cullin-based E3s. To define the molecular basis for this assembly and the overall architecture of the E3, we determined the crystal structures of the BTB-BACK domains of KLHL11 both alone and in complex with Cul3, along with the Kelch domain structures of KLHL2 (Mayven), KLHL7, KLHL12, and KBTBD5. We show that Cul3 interaction is dependent on a unique N-terminal extension sequence that packs against the 3-box in a hydrophobic groove centrally located between the BTB and BACK domains. Deletion of this N-terminal region results in a 30-fold loss in affinity. The presented data offer a model for the quaternary assembly of this E3 class that supports the bivalent capture of Nrf2 and reveals potential new sites for E3 inhibitor design.
PMCID: PMC3597819  PMID: 23349464
Proteasome; Protein-Protein Interactions; Signaling; Ubiquitination; X-ray Crystallography; β-Propeller; Degradation
10.  BTB Protein Keap1 Targets Antioxidant Transcription Factor Nrf2 for Ubiquitination by the Cullin 3-Roc1 Ligase 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(1):162-171.
The concentrations and functions of many eukaryotic proteins are regulated by the ubiquitin pathway, which consists of ubiquitin activation (E1), conjugation (E2), and ligation (E3). Cullins are a family of evolutionarily conserved proteins that assemble by far the largest family of E3 ligase complexes. Cullins, via a conserved C-terminal domain, bind with the RING finger protein Roc1 to recruit the catalytic function of E2. Via a distinct N-terminal domain, individual cullins bind to a protein motif present in multiple proteins to recruit specific substrates. Cullin 3 (Cul3), but not other cullins, binds directly with BTB domains to constitute a potentially large number of BTB-CUL3-ROC1 E3 ubiquitin ligases. Here we report that the human BTB-Kelch protein Keap1, a negative regulator of the antioxidative transcription factor Nrf2, binds to CUL3 and Nrf2 via its BTB and Kelch domains, respectively. The KEAP1-CUL3-ROC1 complex promoted NRF2 ubiquitination in vitro and knocking down Keap1 or CUL3 by short interfering RNA resulted in NRF2 protein accumulation in vivo. We suggest that Keap1 negatively regulates Nrf2 function in part by targeting Nrf2 for ubiquitination by the CUL3-ROC1 ligase and subsequent degradation by the proteasome. Blocking NRF2 degradation in cells expressing both KEAP1 and NRF2 by either inhibiting the proteasome activity or knocking down Cul3, resulted in NRF2 accumulation in the cytoplasm. These results may reconcile previously observed cytoplasmic sequestration of NRF2 by KEAP1 and suggest a possible regulatory step between KEAP1-NRF2 binding and NRF2 degradation.
PMCID: PMC538799  PMID: 15601839
11.  "Cullin 4 makes its mark on chromatin" 
Cell Division  2006;1:14.
Cullin 4 (Cul4), a member of the evolutionally conserved cullin protein family, serves as a scaffold to assemble multisubunit ubiquitin E3 ligase complexes. Cul4 interacts with the Ring finger-containing protein ROC1 through its C-terminal cullin domain and with substrate recruiting subunit(s) through its N-terminus. Previous studies have demonstrated that Cul4 E3 ligase ubiquitylates key regulators in cell cycle control and mediates their degradation through the proteasomal pathway, thus contributing to genome stability. Recent studies from several groups have revealed that Cul4 E3 ligase can target histones for ubiquitylation, and importantly, ubiquitylation of histones may facilitate the cellular response to DNA damage. Therefore, histone ubiquitylation by Cul4 E3 ligase constitutes a novel mechanism through which Cul4 regulates chromatin function and maintains genomic integrity. We outline these studies and suggest that histone ubiquitylation might play important roles in Cul4-regualted chromatin function including the cellular response to DNA damage and heterochromatin gene silencing.
PMCID: PMC1533813  PMID: 16831222
12.  Regulation of Cullin RING E3 Ubiquitin Ligases by CAND1 In Vivo 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e16071.
Cullin RING ligases are multi-subunit complexes consisting of a cullin protein which forms a scaffold onto which the RING protein Rbx1/2 and substrate receptor subunits assemble. CAND1, which binds to cullins that are not conjugated with Nedd8 and not associated with substrate receptors, has been shown to function as a positive regulator of Cullin ligases in vivo. Two models have been proposed to explain this requirement: (i) CAND1 sequesters cullin proteins and thus prevents autoubiquitination of substrate receptors, and (ii) CAND1 is required to promote the exchange of bound substrate receptors. Using mammalian cells, we show that CAND1 is predominantly cytoplasmically localized and that cullins are the major CAND1 interacting proteins. However, only small amounts of CAND1 bind to Cul1 in cells, despite low basal levels of Cul1 neddylation and approximately equal cytoplasmic endogenous protein concentrations of CAND1 and Cul1. Compared to F-box protein substrate receptors, binding of CAND1 to Cul1 in vivo is weak. Furthermore, preventing binding of F-box substrate receptors to Cul1 does not increase CAND1 binding. In conclusion, our study suggests that CAND1 does not function by sequestering cullins in vivo to prevent substrate receptor autoubiquitination and is likely to regulate cullin RING ligase activity via alternative mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3020946  PMID: 21249194
13.  Role of the NEDD8 Modification of Cul2 in the Sequential Activation of ECV Complex1 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2006;8(11):956-963.
ECV is an E3 ubiquitin ligase complex, which is composed of elongins B and C, Rbx1, Cul2, and the substrate-conferring von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumorsuppressor protein that targets the catalytic α subunit of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) for oxygen-dependent ubiquitin-mediated destruction. Mutations in VHL that compromise proper HIFα regulation through ECV have been documented in the majority of renal cell carcinomas, underscoring the significance of the VHL-HIF pathway in renal epithelial oncogenesis. Recent evidence has shown that the modification of Cul2 by the ubiquitin-like molecule NEDD8 increases the activity of ECV to ubiquitylate HIFα. However, the underlying mechanism responsible for the NEDD8-mediated induction of ECV function is unknown. Here, we demonstrate that oxygen-dependent recognition of HIFα by VHL triggers Rbx1-dependent neddylation of Cul2, which preferentially engages the E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme UbcH5a. These events establish a central role for the neddylation of Cul2 in a previously unrecognized, temporally coordinated activation of ECV with the recruitment of its substrate HIFα.
PMCID: PMC1716018  PMID: 17132228
Cul2; NEDD8; UbcH5a; HIFα; VHL
14.  Characterization of the role of COP9 signalosome in regulating cullin E3 ubiquitin ligase activity 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2011;22(24):4706-4715.
Cullin RING E3 ligases require covalent modification with Nedd8 for activity. Neddylation is reversed by the COP9 signalosome (CSN). We characterize the role of CSN-dependent deneddylation in vivo and propose a model in which CSN binds to cullin ligases in their active conformation and functions to recruit important regulatory factors.
Cullin RING ligases (CRLs) are the largest family of cellular E3 ubiquitin ligases and mediate polyubiquitination of a number of cellular substrates. CRLs are activated via the covalent modification of the cullin protein with the ubiquitin-like protein Nedd8. This results in a conformational change in the cullin carboxy terminus that facilitates the ubiquitin transfer onto the substrate. COP9 signalosome (CSN)-mediated cullin deneddylation is essential for CRL activity in vivo. However, the mechanism through which CSN promotes CRL activity in vivo is currently unclear. In this paper, we provide evidence that cullin deneddylation is not intrinsically coupled to substrate polyubiquitination as part of the CRL activation cycle. Furthermore, inhibiting substrate-receptor autoubiquitination is unlikely to account for the major mechanism through which CSN regulates CRL activity. CSN also did not affect recruitment of the substrate-receptor SPOP to Cul3, suggesting it may not function to facilitate the exchange of Cul3 substrate receptors. Our results indicate that CSN binds preferentially to CRLs in the neddylation-induced, active conformation. Binding of the CSN complex to active CRLs may recruit CSN-associated proteins important for CRL regulation. The deneddylating activity of CSN would subsequently promote its own dissociation to allow progression through the CRL activation cycle.
PMCID: PMC3237615  PMID: 22013077
15.  The NEDD8 system is essential for cell cycle progression and morphogenetic pathway in mice 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2001;155(4):571-580.
NEDD8/Rub1 is a ubiquitin (Ub)-like molecule that covalently ligates to target proteins through an enzymatic cascade analogous to ubiquitylation. This modifier is known to target all cullin (Cul) family proteins. The latter are essential components of Skp1/Cul-1/F-box protein (SCF)–like Ub ligase complexes, which play critical roles in Ub-mediated proteolysis. To determine the role of the NEDD8 system in mammals, we generated mice deficient in Uba3 gene that encodes a catalytic subunit of NEDD8-activating enzyme. Uba3−/− mice died in utero at the periimplantation stage. Mutant embryos showed selective apoptosis of the inner cell mass but not of trophoblastic cells. However, the mutant trophoblastic cells could not enter the S phase of the endoreduplication cycle. This cell cycle arrest was accompanied with aberrant expression of cyclin E and p57Kip2. These results suggested that the NEDD8 system is essential for both mitotic and the endoreduplicative cell cycle progression. β-Catenin, a mediator of the Wnt/wingless signaling pathway, which degrades continuously in the cytoplasm through SCF Ub ligase, was also accumulated in the Uba3−/− cytoplasm and nucleus. Thus, the NEDD8 system is essential for the regulation of protein degradation pathways involved in cell cycle progression and morphogenesis, possibly through the function of the Cul family proteins.
PMCID: PMC2198877  PMID: 11696557
NEDD8; ubiquitin; cullin; knock-out; cell cycle
16.  Neddylation and CAND1 Independently Stimulate SCF Ubiquitin Ligase Activity in Candida albicans 
Eukaryotic Cell  2012;11(1):42-52.
SCF (Skp1–cullin/Cdc53–F-box protein) ubiquitin ligases bind substrates via the variable F-box protein and, in conjunction with the RING domain protein Rbx1 and the ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme Ubc3/Cdc34, catalyze substrate ubiquitination. The cullin subunit can be modified covalently by conjugation of the ubiquitin-like protein Rub1/NEDD8 (neddylation) or bound noncovalently by the protein CAND1 (cullin-associated, neddylation-dissociated). Expression of the Candida albicans CAND1 gene homolog CaTIP120 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae is toxic only in the presence of CaCdc53, consistent with a specific interaction between CaTip120 and CaCdc53. To genetically analyze this system in C. albicans, we deleted the homologs of RUB1/NEDD8, TIP120/CAND1, and the deneddylase gene JAB1, and we also generated a temperature-sensitive allele of the essential CaCDC53 gene by knock-in site-directed mutagenesis. Deletion of CaRUB1 and CaTIP120 caused morphological, growth, and protein degradation phenotypes consistent with a reduction in SCF ubiquitin ligase activity. Furthermore, the double Carub1−/− Catip120−/− mutant was more defective in SCF activity than either individual deletion mutant. These results indicate that CAND1 stimulates SCF ubiquitin ligase activity and that it does so independently of neddylation. Our data do not support a role for CAND1 in the protection of either the F-box protein or cullin from degradation but are consistent with the suggested role of CAND1 in SCF complex remodeling.
PMCID: PMC3255936  PMID: 22080453
17.  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
18.  New strategies to inhibit KEAP1 and the Cul3-based E3 ubiquitin ligases 
Biochemical Society Transactions  2014;42(Pt 1):103-107.
E3 ubiquitin ligases that direct substrate proteins to the ubiquitin–proteasome system are promising, though largely unexplored drug targets both because of their function and their remarkable specificity. CRLs [Cullin–RING (really interesting new gene) ligases] are the largest group of E3 ligases and function as modular multisubunit complexes constructed around a Cullin-family scaffold protein. The Cul3-based CRLs uniquely assemble with BTB (broad complex/tramtrack/bric-à-brac) proteins that also homodimerize and perform the role of both the Cullin adapter and the substrate-recognition component of the E3. The most prominent member is the BTB–BACK (BTB and C-terminal Kelch)–Kelch protein KEAP1 (Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1), a master regulator of the oxidative stress response and a potential drug target for common conditions such as diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Structural characterization of BTB–Cul3 complexes has revealed a number of critical assembly mechanisms, including the binding of an N-terminal Cullin extension to a bihelical ‘3-box’ at the C-terminus of the BTB domain. Improved understanding of the structure of these complexes should contribute significantly to the effort to develop novel therapeutics targeted to CRL3-regulated pathways.
PMCID: PMC3935762  PMID: 24450635
antioxidant response; cancer; cell signalling; degradation; drug design; ubiquitylation; ARE, antioxidant-response element; BACK, BTB and C-terminal Kelch; BTB, broad complex/tramtrack/bric-à-brac; CRL, Cullin–RING ligase; HECT, homologous with E6-associated protein C-terminus; KEAP1, Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1; KLHL, Kelch-like; MATH, meprin and TRAF (tumour-necrosis-factor-receptor-associated factor) homology; Nrf2, nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2; POZ, pox virus and zinc finger; Rbx, RING box protein; RING, really interesting new gene; SPOP, speckle-type POZ protein
19.  The cullin protein family 
Genome Biology  2011;12(4):220.
Cullin proteins are molecular scaffolds that have crucial roles in the post-translational modification of cellular proteins involving ubiquitin. The mammalian cullin protein family comprises eight members (CUL1 to CUL7 and PARC), which are characterized by a cullin homology domain. CUL1 to CUL7 assemble multi-subunit Cullin-RING E3 ubiquitin ligase (CRL) complexes, the largest family of E3 ligases with more than 200 members. Although CUL7 and PARC are present only in chordates, other members of the cullin protein family are found in Drosophila melanogaster, Caenorhabditis elegans, Arabidopsis thaliana and yeast. A cullin protein tethers both a substrate-targeting unit, often through an adaptor protein, and the RING finger component in a CRL. The cullin-organized CRL thus positions a substrate close to the RING-bound E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme, which catalyzes the transfer of ubiquitin to the substrate. In addition, conjugation of cullins with the ubiquitin-like molecule Nedd8 modulates activation of the corresponding CRL complex, probably through conformational regulation of the interactions between cullin's carboxy-terminal tail and CRL's RING subunit. Genetic studies in several model organisms have helped to unravel a multitude of physiological functions associated with cullin proteins and their respective CRLs. CRLs target numerous substrates and thus have an impact on a range of biological processes, including cell growth, development, signal transduction, transcriptional control, genomic integrity and tumor suppression. Moreover, mutations in CUL7 and CUL4B genes have been linked to hereditary human diseases.
PMCID: PMC3218854  PMID: 21554755
20.  HIV relies on neddylation for ubiquitin ligase-mediated functions 
Retrovirology  2013;10:138.
HIV and SIV defeat antiviral proteins by usurping Cullin-RING E3 ubiquitin ligases (CRLs) and likely influence other cellular processes through these as well. HIV-2 viral protein X (Vpx) engages the cullin4-containing CRL4 complex to deplete the antiviral protein SAMHD1. Vif expressed by HIV-1 and HIV-2 taps a cullin5 ubiquitin ligase complex to mark the antiviral protein APOBEC3G for destruction. Viral Protein R of HIV-1 (Vpr) assembles with the CRL4 ubiquitin ligase complex to deplete uracil-N-glycosylase2 (UNG2). Covalent attachment of the ubiquitin-like protein side-chain NEDD8 functionally activates cullins which are common to all of these processes.
The requirement for neddylation in HIV-1 and HIV-2 infectivity was tested in the presence of APOBEC3G and SAMHD1 respectively. Further the need for neddylation in HIV-1 Vpr-mediated depletion of UNG2 was probed. Treatment with MLN4924, an adenosine sulfamate analog which hinders the NEDD8 activating enzyme NAE1, blocked neddylation of cullin4A (CUL4A). The inhibitor hindered HIV-1 infection in the presence of APOBEC3G, even when Vif was expressed, and it stopped HIV-2 infection in the presence of SAMHD1 and Vpx. Consistent with these findings, MLN4924 prevented Vpx-mediated depletion of SAMHD1 in macrophages infected with Vpx-expressing HIV-2, as well as HIV-1 Vif-mediated destruction of APOBEC3G. It also stemmed Vpr-mediated UNG2 elimination from cells infected with HIV-1.
Neddylation plays an important role in HIV-1 and HIV-2 infection. This observation is consistent with the essential parts that cullin-based ubiquitin ligases play in overcoming cellular anti-viral defenses.
PMCID: PMC3842660  PMID: 24245672
HIV; SAMHD1; APOBEC3G; Vif; Vpr; Vpx; UNG2; CUL4A; CUL5; NEDD8; MLN4924
21.  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
22.  E2-RING expansion of the NEDD8 cascade confers specificity to cullin modification 
Molecular cell  2009;33(4):483-495.
Ubiquitin and ubiquitin-like proteins (UBLs) are directed to targets by cascades of E1, E2, and E3 enzymes. The largest ubiquitin E3 subclass consists of cullin-RING ligases (CRLs), which contain one each of several cullins (CUL1, 2, 3, 4, or 5) and RING proteins (RBX1 or 2). CRLs are activated by ligation of the UBL NEDD8 to a conserved cullin Lys. How is cullin NEDD8ylation specificity established? Here we report that like UBE2M (aka UBC12), the previously uncharacterized E2 UBE2F is a NEDD8 conjugating enzyme in vitro and in vivo. Biochemical and structural analyses indicate how plasticity of hydrophobic E1–E2 interactions and E1 conformational flexibility allow one E1 to charge multiple E2s. The E2s have distinct functions, with UBE2M/RBX1 and UBE2F/RBX2 displaying different target cullin specificities. Together, these studies reveal the molecular basis for and functional importance of hierarchical expansion of the NEDD8 conjugation system in establishing selective CRL activation.
PMCID: PMC2725360  PMID: 19250909
Cullin; Cul1; Cul5; Rbx1; Rbx2; Cullin-RING ligase; NEDD8; E2; UBE2M; UBE2F; Ubiquitin
23.  The CUL1 C-Terminal Sequence and ROC1 Are Required for Efficient Nuclear Accumulation, NEDD8 Modification, and Ubiquitin Ligase Activity of CUL1 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2000;20(21):8185-8197.
Members of the cullin and RING finger ROC protein families form heterodimeric complexes to constitute a potentially large number of distinct E3 ubiquitin ligases. We report here that the highly conserved C-terminal sequence in CUL1 is dually required, both for nuclear localization and for modification by NEDD8. Disruption of ROC1 binding impaired nuclear accumulation of CUL1 and decreased NEDD8 modification in vivo but had no effect on NEDD8 modification of CUL1 in vitro, suggesting that ROC1 promotes CUL1 nuclear accumulation to facilitate its NEDD8 modification. Disruption of NEDD8 binding had no effect on ROC1 binding, nor did it affect nuclear localization of CUL1, suggesting that nuclear localization and NEDD8 modification of CUL1 are two separable steps, with nuclear import preceding and required for NEDD8 modification. Disrupting NEDD8 modification diminishes the IκBα ubiquitin ligase activity of CUL1. These results identify a pathway for regulation of CUL1 activity—ROC1 and the CUL1 C-terminal sequence collaboratively mediate nuclear accumulation and NEDD8 modification, facilitating assembly of active CUL1 ubiquitin ligase. This pathway may be commonly utilized for the assembly of other cullin ligases.
PMCID: PMC86428  PMID: 11027288
24.  The Steady-State Repertoire of Human SCF Ubiquitin Ligase Complexes Does Not Require Ongoing Nedd8 Conjugation* 
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics : MCP  2010;10(5):M110.006460.
The human genome encodes 69 different F-box proteins (FBPs), each of which can potentially assemble with Skp1-Cul1-RING to serve as the substrate specificity subunit of an SCF ubiquitin ligase complex. SCF activity is switched on by conjugation of the ubiquitin-like protein Nedd8 to Cul1. Cycles of Nedd8 conjugation and deconjugation acting in conjunction with the Cul1-sequestering factor Cand1 are thought to control dynamic cycles of SCF assembly and disassembly, which would enable a dynamic equilibrium between the Cul1-RING catalytic core of SCF and the cellular repertoire of FBPs. To test this hypothesis, we determined the cellular composition of SCF complexes and evaluated the impact of Nedd8 conjugation on this steady-state. At least 42 FBPs assembled with Cul1 in HEK 293 cells, and the levels of Cul1-bound FBPs varied by over two orders of magnitude. Unexpectedly, quantitative mass spectrometry revealed that blockade of Nedd8 conjugation led to a modest increase, rather than a decrease, in the overall level of most SCF complexes. We suggest that multiple mechanisms including FBP dissociation and turnover cooperate to maintain the cellular pool of SCF ubiquitin ligases.
PMCID: PMC3098594  PMID: 21169563
25.  The NEDD8 modification pathway in plants 
NEDD8, in plants and yeasts also known as RELATED TO UBIQUITIN (RUB), is an evolutionarily conserved 76 amino acid protein highly related to ubiquitin. Like ubiquitin, NEDD8 can be conjugated to and deconjugated from target proteins, but unlike ubiquitin, NEDD8 has not been reported to form chains similar to the different polymeric ubiquitin chains that have a role in a diverse set of cellular processes. NEDD8-modification is best known as a post-translational modification of the cullin subunits of cullin-RING E3 ubiquitin ligases. In this context, structural analyses have revealed that neddylation induces a conformation change of the cullin that brings the ubiquitylation substrates into proximity of the interacting E2 conjugating enzyme. In turn, NEDD8 deconjugation destabilizes the cullin RING ligase complex allowing for the exchange of substrate recognition subunits via the exchange factor CAND1. In plants, components of the neddylation and deneddylation pathway were identified based on mutants with defects in auxin and light responses and the characterization of these mutants has been instrumental for the elucidation of the neddylation pathway. More recently, there has been evidence from animal and plant systems that NEDD8 conjugation may also regulate the behavior or fate of non-cullin substrates in a number of ways. Here, the current knowledge on NEDD8 processing, conjugation and deconjugation is presented, where applicable, in the context of specific signaling pathways from plants.
PMCID: PMC3968751  PMID: 24711811
CAND1; COP9 signalosome (CSN); cullin; E3 ubiquitin ligase; F-BOX PROTEIN (FBP); NEDD8; RELATED TO UBIQUITIN (RUB); ubiquitin

Results 1-25 (460849)