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1.  Evolution of Plant HECT Ubiquitin Ligases 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68536.
HECT ubiquitin ligases are key components of the ubiquitin-proteasome system, which is present in all eukaryotes. In this study, the patterns of emergence of HECT genes in plants are described. Phylogenetic and structural data indicate that viridiplantae have six main HECT subfamilies, which arose before the split that separated green algae from the rest of plants. It is estimated that the common ancestor of all plants contained seven HECT genes. Contrary to what happened in animals, the number of HECT genes has been kept quite constant in all lineages, both in chlorophyta and streptophyta, although evolutionary recent duplications are found in some species. Several of the genes found in plants may have originated very early in eukaryotic evolution, given that they have clear similarities, both in sequence and structure, to animal genes. Finally, in Arabidopsis thaliana, we found significant correlations in the expression patterns of HECT genes and some ancient, broadly expressed genes that belong to a different ubiquitin ligase family, called RBR. These results are discussed in the context of the evolution of the gene families required for ubiquitination in plants.
PMCID: PMC3712016  PMID: 23869223
2.  Structure of the HECT:ubiquitin complex and its role in ubiquitin chain elongation 
EMBO Reports  2011;12(4):342-349.
Structure of the HECT:ubiquitin complex and its role in ubiquitin chain elongation
Analysis of ubiquitin binding to the HECT domain of Nedd4 suggests that the ubiquitin chain being elongated is kept close to the catalytic cysteine to promote processivity. Together with the accompanying paper by the Huibregtse group, this study shows the catalysis of polyubiquitin chains by HECT E3 ligases.
Several mechanisms have been proposed for the synthesis of substrate-linked ubiquitin chains. HECT ligases directly catalyse protein ubiquitination and have been found to non-covalently interact with ubiquitin. We report crystal structures of the Nedd4 HECT domain, alone and in complex with ubiquitin, which show a new binding mode involving two surfaces on ubiquitin and both subdomains of the HECT N-lobe. The structures suggest a model for HECT-to-substrate ubiquitin transfer, in which the growing chain on the substrate is kept close to the catalytic cysteine to promote processivity. Mutational analysis highlights differences between the processes of substrate polyubiquitination and self-ubiquitination.
PMCID: PMC3077247  PMID: 21399620
catalysis; E3 ligase; polyubiquitination; structure; ubiquitin
3.  Progressive Purkinje Cell Degeneration in tambaleante Mutant Mice Is a Consequence of a Missense Mutation in HERC1 E3 Ubiquitin Ligase 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(12):e1000784.
The HERC gene family encodes proteins with two characteristic domains: HECT and RCC1-like. Proteins with HECT domains have been described to function as ubiquitin ligases, and those that contain RCC1-like domains have been reported to function as GTPases regulators. These two activities are essential in a number of important cellular processes such as cell cycle, cell signaling, and membrane trafficking. Mutations affecting these domains have been found associated with retinitis pigmentosa, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and cancer. In humans, six HERC genes have been reported which encode two subgroups of HERC proteins: large (HERC1-2) and small (HERC3-6). The giant HERC1 protein was the first to be identified. It has been involved in membrane trafficking and cell proliferation/growth through its interactions with clathrin, M2-pyruvate kinase, and TSC2 proteins. Mutations affecting other members of the HERC family have been found to be associated with sterility and growth retardation. Here, we report the characterization of a recessive mutation named tambaleante, which causes progressive Purkinje cell degeneration leading to severe ataxia with reduced growth and lifespan in homozygous mice aged over two months. We mapped this mutation in mouse chromosome 9 and then performed positional cloning. We found a G⇔A transition at position 1448, causing a Gly to Glu substitution (Gly483Glu) in the highly conserved N-terminal RCC1-like domain of the HERC1 protein. Successful transgenic rescue, with either a mouse BAC containing the normal copy of Herc1 or with the human HERC1 cDNA, validated our findings. Histological and biochemical studies revealed extensive autophagy associated with an increase of the mutant protein level and a decrease of mTOR activity. Our observations concerning this first mutation in the Herc1 gene contribute to the functional annotation of the encoded E3 ubiquitin ligase and underline the crucial and unexpected role of this protein in Purkinje cell physiology.
Author Summary
The cerebellum is a coordination center whose function is to fine-tune vertebrates' gait and balance; and for this reason, alterations or damage affecting this structure result in a complex syndrome, called ataxia, with neurological signs that are easily recognized. In the mouse, many mutations producing ataxia have been identified and characterized. They have contributed to a better understanding of the genetics of cerebellum development, physiology, and pathology. The present study identifies the recessive allele responsible for the progressive and massive degeneration of the Purkinje cells observed in mutant mice previously named tambaleante. The mutation leads to a single amino acid substitution in a highly conserved domain (RCC1-like) of the giant protein HERC1. This protein belongs to the families HECT (E3 ubiquitin ligases) and RCC1 (GTPases regulators). While a variety of mutations have been reported in several members of these families, leading to sterility, growth retardation, retinitis pigmentosa, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or cancer, no mutation had ever been reported so far in the mouse Herc1 gene. This report demonstrates the crucial and unexpected role of HERC1 in Purkinje cell physiology that could be considered helpful in the development of new therapeutic strategies for neurodegenerative disorders.
PMCID: PMC2791161  PMID: 20041218
4.  A Genomic Survey of HECT Ubiquitin Ligases in Eukaryotes Reveals Independent Expansions of the HECT System in Several Lineages 
Genome Biology and Evolution  2013;5(5):833-847.
The posttranslational modification of proteins by the ubiquitination pathway is an important regulatory mechanism in eukaryotes. To date, however, studies on the evolutionary history of the proteins involved in this pathway have been restricted to E1 and E2 enzymes, whereas E3 studies have been focused mainly in metazoans and plants. To have a wider perspective, here we perform a genomic survey of the HECT family of E3 ubiquitin-protein ligases, an important part of this posttranslational pathway, in genomes from representatives of all major eukaryotic lineages. We classify eukaryotic HECTs and reconstruct, by phylogenetic analysis, the putative repertoire of these proteins in the last eukaryotic common ancestor (LECA). Furthermore, we analyze the diversity and complexity of protein domain architectures of HECTs along the different extant eukaryotic lineages. Our data show that LECA had six different HECTs and that protein expansion and N-terminal domain diversification shaped HECT evolution. Our data reveal that the genomes of animals and unicellular holozoans considerably increased the molecular and functional diversity of their HECT system compared with other eukaryotes. Other eukaryotes, such as the Apusozoa Thecanomas trahens or the Heterokonta Phytophthora infestans, independently expanded their HECT repertoire. In contrast, plant, excavate, rhodophyte, chlorophyte, and fungal genomes have a more limited enzymatic repertoire. Our genomic survey and phylogenetic analysis clarifies the origin and evolution of different HECT families among eukaryotes and provides a useful phylogenetic framework for future evolutionary studies of this regulatory pathway.
PMCID: PMC3673628  PMID: 23563970
ubiquitination pathway; posttranslational regulation; multicellularity; last common ancestor of eukaryotes; Holozoa
5.  Regulation of nucleotide excision repair activity by transcriptional and post-transcriptional control of the XPA protein 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;39(8):3176-3187.
The XPA (Xeroderma pigmentosum A) protein is one of the six core factors of the human nucleotide excision repair system. In this study we show that XPA is a rate-limiting factor in all human cell lines tested, including a normal human fibroblast cell line. The level of XPA is controlled at the transcriptional level by the molecular circadian clock and at the post-translational level by a HECT domain family E3 ubiquitin ligase called HERC2. Stabilization of XPA by downregulation of HERC2 moderately enhances excision repair activity. Conversely, downregulation of XPA by siRNA reduces excision repair activity in proportion to the level of XPA. Ubiquitination and proteolysis of XPA are inhibited by DNA damage that promotes tight association of the protein with chromatin and its dissociation from the HERC2 E3 ligase. Finally, in agreement with a recent report, we find that XPA is post-translationally modified by acetylation. However, contrary to the previous claim, we find that in mouse liver only a small fraction of XPA is acetylated and that downregulation of SIRT1 deacetylase in two human cell lines does not affect the overall repair rate. Collectively, the data reveal that XPA is a limiting factor in excision repair and that its level is coordinately regulated by the circadian clock, the ubiquitin–proteasome system and DNA damage.
PMCID: PMC3082913  PMID: 21193487
6.  Structure of the HHARI Catalytic Domain Shows Glimpses of a HECT E3 Ligase 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e74047.
The ubiquitin-signaling pathway utilizes E1 activating, E2 conjugating, and E3 ligase enzymes to sequentially transfer the small modifier protein ubiquitin to a substrate protein. During the last step of this cascade different types of E3 ligases either act as scaffolds to recruit an E2 enzyme and substrate (RING), or form an ubiquitin-thioester intermediate prior to transferring ubiquitin to a substrate (HECT). The RING-inBetweenRING-RING (RBR) proteins constitute a unique group of E3 ubiquitin ligases that includes the Human Homologue of Drosophila Ariadne (HHARI). These E3 ligases are proposed to use a hybrid RING/HECT mechanism whereby the enzyme uses facets of both the RING and HECT enzymes to transfer ubiquitin to a substrate. We now present the solution structure of the HHARI RING2 domain, the key portion of this E3 ligase required for the RING/HECT hybrid mechanism. The structure shows the domain possesses two Zn2+-binding sites and a single exposed cysteine used for ubiquitin catalysis. A structural comparison of the RING2 domain with the HECT E3 ligase NEDD4 reveals a near mirror image of the cysteine and histidine residues in the catalytic site. Further, a tandem pair of aromatic residues exists near the C-terminus of the HHARI RING2 domain that is conserved in other RBR E3 ligases. One of these aromatic residues is remotely located from the catalytic site that is reminiscent of the location found in HECT E3 enzymes where it is used for ubiquitin catalysis. These observations provide an initial structural rationale for the RING/HECT hybrid mechanism for ubiquitination used by the RBR E3 ligases.
PMCID: PMC3772753  PMID: 24058416
7.  Functional Domains of the Rsp5 Ubiquitin-Protein Ligase 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1999;19(1):342-352.
RSP5, an essential gene of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, encodes a hect domain E3 ubiquitin-protein ligase. Hect E3 proteins have been proposed to consist of two broad functional domains: a conserved catalytic carboxyl-terminal domain of approximately 350 amino acids (the hect domain) and a large, nonconserved amino-terminal domain containing determinants of substrate specificity. We report here the mapping of the minimal region of Rsp5 necessary for its essential in vivo function, the minimal region necessary to stably interact with a substrate of Rsp5 (Rpb1, the large subunit of RNA polymerase II), and the finding that the hect domain, by itself, is sufficient for formation of the ubiquitin-thioester intermediate. Mutations within the hect domain that affect either the ability to form a ubiquitin-thioester or to catalyze substrate ubiquitination abrogate in vivo function, strongly suggesting that the ubiquitin-protein ligase activity of Rsp5 is intrinsically linked to its essential function. The amino-terminal region of Rsp5 contains three WW domains and a C2 calcium-binding domain. Two of the three WW domains are required for the essential in vivo function, while the C2 domain is not, and requirements for Rpb1 binding and ubiquitination lie within the region required for in vivo function. Together, these results support the two-domain model for hect E3 function and indicate that the WW domains play a role in the recognition of at least some of the substrates of Rsp5, including those related to its essential function. In addition, we show that haploid yeast strains bearing complete disruptions of either of two other hect E3 genes of yeast, designated HUL4 (YJR036C) and HUL5 (YGL141W), are viable.
PMCID: PMC83892  PMID: 9858558
8.  The Ubiquitin-Specific Peptidase USP15 Regulates Human Papillomavirus Type 16 E6 Protein Stability▿ §  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(17):8885-8892.
Proteomic identification of human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16) E6-interacting proteins revealed several proteins involved in ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis. In addition to the well-characterized E6AP ubiquitin-protein ligase, a second HECT domain protein (HERC2) and a deubiquitylating enzyme (USP15) were identified by tandem affinity purification of HPV16 E6-associated proteins. This study focuses on the functional consequences of the interaction of E6 with USP15. Overexpression of USP15 resulted in increased levels of the E6 protein, and the small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of USP15 decreased E6 protein levels. These results implicate USP15 directly in the regulation of E6 protein stability and suggest that ubiquitylated E6 could be a substrate for USP15 ubiquitin peptidase activity. It remains possible that E6 could affect the activity of USP15 on specific cellular substrates, a hypothesis that can be tested as more is learned about the substrates and pathways controlled by USP15.
PMCID: PMC2738190  PMID: 19553310
9.  The expression and clinical significance of HERC4 in breast cancer 
Increasing evidence suggest that ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) plays a key role in tumorigenesis. HERC4 is a recently identified ubiqutin ligase. However, the expression status and biological functions of HERC4 in cancers are not clearly.
We evaluated the HERC4 expression in breast cancer cell lines and breast tumor tissues by quantitative real-time PCR and western blot analysis. To investigate the clinicopathological significance of HERC4, immunohistochemistry analysis for HERC4 was performed on a tissue microarray including 13 benign fibroadenoma, 15 intraductal carcinoma, 120 histologically confirmed invasive ductal carcinoma. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was applied to determine the optimal cut-off score for positive expression of HERC4, when HERC4 positive expression percentage was above 60%, tumor was defined as “positive”.
HERC4 was up-regulated in breast cancer cell lines and breast tumor tissues compared to non-tumorigenic cell line and adjacent normal breast tissues. According to ROC analysis, HERC4 positive expression was detected in 1/16 (6.3%) of normal breast tissue, in 3/13 (23.1%) of fibroadenoma, in 6/15 (40%) of intraductal carcinoma and 66/120 (55%) of invasive ductal carcinoma. Positive expression of HERC4 was positively correlated with pT status, pN status, clinical stage and histological grade of patients with invasive ductal carcinoma (p < 0.05).
Our findings suggest that HERC4 was a significant diagnostic marker for invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast.
PMCID: PMC3832903  PMID: 24225229
HERC4; Breast cancer; Tissue microarray; Histopathological grade; Clinical stage
10.  Polyubiquitination by HECT E3s and the Determinants of Chain Type Specificity▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2009;29(12):3307-3318.
Polyubiquitination can mediate several different biochemical functions, determined in part by which lysine of ubiquitin is used to link the polyubiquitin chain. Among the HECT domain ubiquitin ligases, some, such as human E6AP, preferentially catalyze the formation of K48-linked polyubiquitin chains, while others, including Saccharomyces cerevisiae Rsp5 and human Itch, preferentially catalyze the formation of K63-linked chains. The features of HECT E3s that determine their chain type specificities have not been identified. We show here that chain type specificity is a function solely of the Rsp5 HECT domain, that the identity of the cooperating E2 protein does not influence the chain type specificity, that single chains produced by Rsp5 contain between 12 and 30 ubiquitin moieties, and that the determinants of chain type specificity are located within the last 60 amino acids of the C lobe of the HECT domain. Our results are also consistent with a simple sequential-addition mechanism for polyubiquitination by Rsp5, rather than a mechanism involving the formation of either E2- or E3-linked polyubiquitin chain transfers.
PMCID: PMC2698738  PMID: 19364824
11.  Biochemical and Structural Studies of a HECT-like Ubiquitin Ligase from Escherichia coli O157:H7* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2010;286(1):441-449.
Many microbial pathogens deliver effector proteins via the type III secretion system into infected host cells. Elucidating the function of these effectors is essential for our understanding of pathogenesis. Here, we describe biochemical and structural characterization of an effector protein (NleL) from Escherichia coli O157:H7, a widespread pathogen causing severe foodborne diseases. We show that NleL functionally and structurally mimics eukaryotic HECT E3 ligases and catalyzes formation of unanchored polyubiquitin chains using Lys6 and Lys48 linkage. The catalytic cysteine residue forms a thioester intermediate with ubiquitin. The structure of NleL contains two domains, a β-helix domain formed by pentapeptide repeats and a bilobed catalytic domain reminiscent of the N- and C-lobe architecture of HECT E3s. Six structures of NleL observed in two crystal forms revealed a large range of different positions of the C-lobe relative to the N-lobe, indicating that the helix linking the two lobes is extremely flexible. Comparing the structure of NleL with that of the Salmonella homolog SopA showed that the orientation of the C-lobes differ by as much as 108°, suggesting that large movements of the C-lobe may be required to facilitate the transfer of ubiquitin from E2 to the substrate. These results provide critical knowledge toward understanding the molecular mechanism by which pathogens utilize the host ubiquitination system during infection.
PMCID: PMC3013003  PMID: 20980253
Bacteria; E3 Ubiquitin Ligase; Ubiquitin; Ubiquitin Ligase; Ubiquitination; HECT Domain; Effector Protein; Polyubiquitin
12.  HERC6 Is the Main E3 Ligase for Global ISG15 Conjugation in Mouse Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e29870.
Type I interferon (IFN) stimulates expression and conjugation of the ubiquitin-like modifier IFN-stimulated gene 15 (ISG15), thereby restricting replication of a wide variety of viruses. Conjugation of ISG15 is critical for its antiviral activity in mice. HECT domain and RCC1-like domain containing protein 5 (HerC5) mediates global ISGylation in human cells, whereas its closest relative, HerC6, does not. So far, the requirement of HerC5 for ISG15-mediated antiviral activity has remained unclear. One of the main obstacles to address this issue has been that no HerC5 homologue exists in mice, hampering the generation of a good knock-out model. However, mice do express a homologue of HerC6 that, in contrast to human HerC6, can mediate ISGylation.
Here we report that the mouse HerC6 N-terminal RCC1-like domain (RLD) allows ISG15 conjugation when replacing the corresponding domain in the human HerC6 homologue. In addition, sequences in the C-terminal HECT domain of mouse HerC6 also appear to facilitate efficient ISGylation. Mouse HerC6 paralleled human HerC5 in localization and IFN-inducibility. Moreover, HerC6 knock-down in mouse cells abolished global ISGylation, whereas its over expression enhanced the IFNβ promoter and conferred antiviral activity against vesicular stomatitis virus and Newcastle disease virus. Together these data indicate that HerC6 is likely the functional counterpart of human HerC5 in mouse cells, suggesting that HerC6−/− mice may provide a feasible model to study the role of human HerC5 in antiviral responses.
PMCID: PMC3260183  PMID: 22272257
13.  Domains of the Rsp5 Ubiquitin-Protein Ligase Required for Receptor-mediated and Fluid-Phase Endocytosis 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2001;12(2):421-435.
Yeast Rsp5p and its mammalian homologue, Nedd4, are hect domain ubiquitin-protein ligases (E3s) required for the ubiquitin-dependent endocytosis of plasma membrane proteins. Because ubiquitination is sufficient to induce internalization, E3-mediated ubiquitination is a key regulatory event in plasma membrane protein endocytosis. Rsp5p is an essential, multidomain protein containing an amino-terminal C2 domain, three WW protein-protein interaction domains, and a carboxy-terminal hect domain that carries E3 activity. In this study, we demonstrate that Rsp5p is peripherally associated with membranes and provide evidence that Rsp5p functions as part of a multimeric protein complex. We define the function of Rsp5p and its domains in the ubiquitin-dependent internalization of the yeast α-factor receptor, Ste2p. Temperature-sensitive rsp5 mutants were unable to ubiquitinate or to internalize Ste2p at the nonpermissive temperature. Deletion of the entire C2 domain had no effect on α-factor internalization; however, point mutations in any of the three WW domains impaired both receptor ubiquitination and internalization. These observations indicate that the WW domains play a role in the important regulatory event of selecting phosphorylated proteins as endocytic cargo. In addition, mutations in the C2 and WW1 domains had more severe defects on transport of fluid-phase markers to the vacuole than on receptor internalization, suggesting that Rsp5p functions at multiple steps in the endocytic pathway.
PMCID: PMC30953  PMID: 11179425
14.  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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3738095  PMID: 23936628
ubiquitin; HECT; E3 ligase; E2 conjugating enzyme; NEDD4; Rsp5; S. cerevisiae
Experimental cell research  2006;313(4):665-676.
G2E3 was originally described as a G2/M-specific gene with DNA damage responsive expression. The presence of a conserved HECT domain within the carboxy-terminus of the protein indicated that it likely functions as an ubiquitin ligase or E3. Although HECT domains are known to function in this capacity for many proteins, we demonstrate that a portion of the HECT domain from G2E3 plays an important role in the dynamic subcellular localization of the protein. We have shown that G2E3 is a nucleo-cytoplasmic shuttling protein with nuclear export mediated by a novel nuclear export domain that functions independently of CRM1. In full-length G2E3, a separate region of the HECT domain suppresses the function of the NES. Additionally, G2E3 contains a nucleolar localization signal (NoLS) in its amino terminus. Localization of G2E3 to the nucleolus is a dynamic process, and the protein delocalizes from the nucleolus rapidly after DNA damage. Cell cycle phase-specific expression and highly regulated subcellular localization of G2E3 suggest a possible role in cell cycle regulation and the cellular response to DNA damage.
PMCID: PMC1876774  PMID: 17239372
nucleolus; DNA damage; ubiquitin ligase; HECT; CRM1; leptomycin B; nuclear export
16.  HECT E3s and human disease 
BMC Biochemistry  2007;8(Suppl 1):S6.
In a simplified view, members of the HECT E3 family have a modular structure consisting of the C-terminal HECT domain, which is catalytically involved in the attachment of ubiquitin to substrate proteins, and N-terminal extensions of variable length and sequence that mediate the substrate specificity of the respective HECT E3. Although the physiologically relevant substrates of most HECT E3s have remained elusive, it is becoming increasingly clear that HECT E3s play an important role in sporadic and hereditary human diseases including cancer, cardiovascular (Liddle's syndrome) and neurological (Angelman syndrome) disorders, and/or in disease-relevant processes including bone homeostasis, immune response and retroviral budding. Thus, molecular approaches to target the activity of distinct HECT E3s, regulators thereof, and/or of HECT E3 substrates could prove valuable in the treatment of the respective diseases.
Publication history: Republished from Current BioData's Targeted Proteins database (TPdb; ).
PMCID: PMC2106370  PMID: 18047743
17.  A human polymorphism affects NEDD4L subcellular targeting by leading to two isoforms that contain or lack a C2 domain 
BMC Cell Biology  2009;10:26.
Ubiquitination serves multiple cellular functions, including proteasomal degradation and the control of stability, function, and intracellular localization of a wide variety of proteins. NEDD4L is a member of the HECT class of E3 ubiquitin ligases. A defining feature of NEDD4L protein isoforms is the presence or absence of an amino-terminal C2 domain, a class of subcellular, calcium-dependent targeting domains. We previously identified a common variant in human NEDD4L that generates isoforms that contain or lack a C2 domain.
To address the potential functional significance of the NEDD4L common variant on NEDD4L subcellular localization, NEDD4L isoforms that either contained or lacked a C2 domain were tagged with enhanced green fluorescent protein, transfected into Xenopus laevis kidney epithelial cells, and imaged by performing confocal microscopy on live cells. We report that the presence or absence of this C2 domain exerts differential effects on the subcellular distribution of NEDD4L, the ability of C2 containing and lacking NEDD4L isoforms to mobilize in response to a calcium stimulus, and the intracellular transport of subunits of the NEDD4L substrate, ENaC. Furthermore, the ability of the C2-containing isoform to influence β-ENaC mobilization from intracellular pools involves the NEDD4L active site for ubiquitination. We propose a model to account for the potential impact of this common genetic variant on protein function at the cellular level.
NEDD4L isoforms that contain or lack a C2 domain target different intracellular locations. Additionally, whereas the C2-containing NEDD4L isoform is capable of shuttling between the plasma membrane and intracellular compartments in response to calcium stimulus the C2-lacking isoform can not. The C2-containing isoform differentially affects the mobilization of ENaC subunits from intracellular pools and this trafficking step requires NEDD4L ubiquitin ligase activity. This observation suggests a new mechanism for the requirement for the PY motif in cAMP-mediated exocytosis of ENaC. We have elucidated how a common genetic variant can underlie significant functional diversity in NEDD4L at the cellular level. We propose a model that describes how that functional variation may influence blood pressure. Moreover, our observations regarding differential function of the NEDD4L isoforms may impact other aspects of physiology that involve this ubiquitin ligase.
PMCID: PMC2678989  PMID: 19364400
18.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction studies of the WW4 domain of the Nedd4-2 ubiquitin–protein ligase 
The first crystallographic study of an isolated WW domain is reported. Single crystals of the WW4 domain of the Nedd4-2 ubiquitin–protein ligase contain a high solvent content of 74% and diffract X-rays to 2.5 Å resolution.
Ubiquitin-mediated protein modification via covalent attachment of ubiquitin has emerged as one of the most common regulatory processes in all eukaryotes. Nedd4-2, closely related to neuronal precursor cell-expressed developmentally down-regulated 4 (Nedd4), is a multimodular ubiquitin–protein ligase comprised of four WW domains and a Hect domain. The WW domains recognize the proline-rich motifs on the multi-subunit amiloride-sensitive epithelial sodium channel (ENaC). To gain insights into the binding of the WW domain to proline-rich peptides, a protein fragment (78 amino acids) containing the fourth WW domain (WW4) of the Nedd4-2 protein was purified and crystallized and X-ray diffraction data were collected. A data set was obtained to 2.5 Å resolution from a cryocooled single crystal at a synchrotron source. The crystals belong to the tetragonal space group P41212 (or P43212), with unit-cell parameters a = b = 113.43, c = 103.21 Å. Analysis of the self-rotation function suggests the presence of four WW4 molecules in the asymmetric unit, with a high unit-cell solvent content of 74%.
PMCID: PMC1978143  PMID: 16511241
Nedd4-2 ubiquitin–protein ligase; WW4 domain
19.  HECT ubiquitin ligases link viral and cellular PPXY motifs to the vacuolar protein-sorting pathway 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2005;168(1):89-101.
Many enveloped viruses exploit the class E vacuolar protein-sorting (VPS) pathway to bud from cells, and use peptide motifs to recruit specific class E VPS factors. Homologous to E6AP COOH terminus (HECT) ubiquitin ligases have been implicated as cofactors for PPXY motif–dependent budding, but precisely which members of this family are responsible, and how they access the VPS pathway is unclear. Here, we show that PPXY-dependent viral budding is unusually sensitive to inhibitory fragments derived from specific HECT ubiquitin ligases, namely WWP1 and WWP2. We also show that WWP1, WWP2, or Itch ubiquitin ligase recruitment promotes PPXY-dependent virion release, and that this function requires that the HECT ubiquitin ligase domain be catalytically active. Finally, we show that several mammalian HECT ubiquitin ligases, including WWP1, WWP2, and Itch are recruited to class E compartments induced by dominant negative forms of the class E VPS ATPase, VPS4. These data indicate that specific HECT ubiquitin ligases can link PPXY motifs to the VPS pathway to induce viral budding.
PMCID: PMC2171676  PMID: 15623582
20.  Following Ariadne's thread: a new perspective on RBR ubiquitin ligases 
BMC Biology  2012;10:24.
Ubiquitin signaling pathways rely on E3 ligases for effecting the final transfer of ubiquitin from E2 ubiquitin conjugating enzymes to a protein target. Here we re-evaluate the hybrid RING/HECT mechanism used by the E3 family RING-between-RINGs (RBRs) to transfer ubiquitin to substrates. We place RBRs into the context of current knowledge of HECT and RING E3s. Although not as abundant as the other types of E3s (there are only slightly more than a dozen RBR E3s in the human genome), RBRs are conserved in all eukaryotes and play important roles in biology. Re-evaluation of RBR ligases as RING/HECT E3s provokes new questions and challenges the field.
PMCID: PMC3305615  PMID: 22420831
21.  A role for ubiquitin ligases and Spartin/SPG20 in lipid droplet turnover 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2009;184(6):881-894.
HECT (homologous to the E6AP C terminus) ubiquitin ligases have diverse functions in eukaryotic cells. In screens for proteins that bind to the HECT ubiquitin ligase WWP1, we identified Spartin, which is also known as SPG20. This protein is truncated in a neurological disease, Troyer syndrome. In this study, we show that SPG20 associates with the surface of lipid droplets (LDs) and can regulate their size and number. SPG20 binds to another LD protein, TIP47, and both proteins compete with an additional LD protein, adipophilin/adipocyte differentiation-related protein, for occupancy of LDs. The mutant SPG20 present in Troyer syndrome does not possess these activities. Depletion of SPG20 using RNA interference increases the number and size of LDs when cells are fed with oleic acid. Binding of WWP1 to SPG20 and the consequent ubiquitin transfer remove SPG20 from LDs and reduce the levels of coexpressed SPG20. These experiments suggest functions for ubiquitin ligases and SPG20 in the regulation of LD turnover and potential pathological mechanisms in Troyer syndrome.
PMCID: PMC2699154  PMID: 19307600
22.  Positive Regulation of Interferon Regulatory Factor 3 Activation by Herc5 via ISG15 Modification ▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2010;30(10):2424-2436.
Virus infection induces host antiviral responses, including induction of type I interferons. Transcription factor interferon regulatory factor 3 (IRF3) plays a pivotal role and is tightly regulated in this process. Here, we identify HERC5 (HECT domain and RLD 5) as a specific binding protein of IRF3 by immunoprecipitation. Ectopic expression or knockdown of HERC5 could, respectively, enhance or impair IRF3-mediated gene expression. Mechanistically, HERC5 catalyzes the conjugation of ubiquitin-like protein ISG15 onto IRF3 (Lys193, -360, and -366), thus attenuating the interaction between Pin1 and IRF3, resulting in sustained IRF3 activation. In contrast to results for wild-type IRF3, the mutant IRF3(K193,360,366R) interacts tightly with Pin1, is highly polyubiquitinated, and becomes less stable upon Sendai virus (SeV) infection. Consistently, host antiviral responses are obviously boosted or crippled in the presence or absence of HERC5, respectively. Collectively, this study characterizes HERC5 as a positive regulator of innate antiviral responses. It sustains IRF3 activation via a novel posttranslational modification, ISGylation.
PMCID: PMC2863703  PMID: 20308324
23.  Insights into ubiquitin transfer cascades from a structure of a UbcH5B~Ubiquitin-HECTNEDD4L complex 
Molecular cell  2009;36(6):1095-1102.
In E1-E2-E3 ubiquitin (Ub) conjugation cascades, the E2 first forms a transient E2~Ub covalent complex, and then interacts with an E3 for Ub transfer. For cascades involving E3s in the HECT class, Ub is transferred from an associated E2 to the acceptor Cys in the HECT domain C-lobe. To gain insights into this process, we determined the crystal structure of a complex between the HECT domain of NEDD4L and the E2 UbcH5B bearing a covalently-linked Ub at its active site (UbcH5B~Ub). Noncovalent interactions between UbcH5B and the HECT N-lobe and between Ub and the HECT domain C-lobe lead to an overall compact structure, with the Ub C-terminus sandwiched between UbcH5B and HECT domain active sites. The structure suggests a model for E2-to-HECT Ub transfer, in which interactions between a donor Ub and an acceptor domain constrain upstream and downstream enzymes for conjugation.
PMCID: PMC2859195  PMID: 20064473
Ubiquitin; HECT; E3; Ubiquitin ligase; UbcH5B; NEDD4L; NEDD4-2
24.  Regulation of Catalytic Activities of HECT Ubiquitin Ligases 
Studies in yeast and mammalian cells over the past decade have shown that HECT domain ubiquitin ligases (HECT E3 enzymes) are involved in diverse physiological pathways. Many substrates of specific HECT E3s have been identified, as well as many adaptor proteins that aid in defining substrate specificity or intracellular localization of HECT E3s. Here we review some recently discovered mechanisms for regulation of the catalytic activities of HECT E3s, including regulation at the level of E2 recruitiment, phosphorylation-dependent relief of inhibitory intramolecular interactions, and regulation by association with a deubiquitinating enzyme.
PMCID: PMC2563040  PMID: 17240353
25.  Localization of the Rsp5p Ubiquitin-Protein Ligase at Multiple Sites within the Endocytic Pathway 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2001;21(10):3564-3575.
The Saccharomyces cerevisiae RSP5 gene encodes an essential HECT E3 ubiquitin-protein ligase. Rsp5p contains an N-terminal C2 domain, three WW domains in the central portion of the molecule, and a C-terminal catalytic HECT domain. A diverse group of substrates of Rsp5p and vertebrate C2 WW-domain-containing HECT E3s have been identified, including both nuclear and membrane-associated proteins. We determined the intracellular localization of Rsp5p and the determinants necessary for localization, in order to better understand how Rsp5p activities are coordinated. Using both green fluorescent protein fusions to Rsp5p and immunogold electron microscopy, we found that Rsp5p was distributed in a punctate pattern at the plasma membrane, corresponding to membrane invaginations that are likely sites of endosome formation, as well as at perivacuolar sites. The latter appeared to correspond to endocytic intermediates, as these structures were not seen in a sla2/end4-1 mutant, and double-immunogold labeling demonstrated colocalization of Rsp5p with the endosomal markers Pep12p and Vps32p. The C2 domain was an important determinant of localization; however, mutations that disrupted HECT domain function also caused mislocalization of Rsp5p, indicating that enzymatic activity is linked to localization. Deletion of the C2 domain partially stabilized Fur4p, a protein previously shown to undergo Rsp5p- and ubiquitin-mediated endocytosis; however, Fur4p was still ubiquitinated at the plasma membrane when the C2 domain was deleted from the protein. Together, these results indicate that Rsp5p is located at multiple sites within the endocytic pathway and suggest that Rsp5p may function at multiple steps in the ubiquitin-mediated endocytosis pathway.
PMCID: PMC100278  PMID: 11313482

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