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1.  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
2.  BRCA1 Is a Histone-H2A-Specific Ubiquitin Ligase 
Cell Reports  2014;8(4):999-1005.
The RING domain proteins BRCA1 and BARD1 comprise a heterodimeric ubiquitin (E3) ligase that is required for the accumulation of ubiquitin conjugates at sites of DNA damage and for silencing at DNA satellite repeat regions. Despite its links to chromatin, the substrate and underlying function of the BRCA1/BARD1 ubiquitin ligase remain unclear. Here, we show that BRCA1/BARD1 specifically ubiquitylates histone H2A in its C-terminal tail on lysines 127 and 129 in vitro and in vivo. The specificity for K127-129 is acquired only when H2A is within a nucleosomal context. Moreover, site-specific targeting of the BRCA1/BARD1 RING domains to chromatin is sufficient for H2Aub foci formation in vivo. Our data establish BRCA1/BARD1 as a histone-H2A-specific E3 ligase, helping to explain its localization and activities on chromatin in cells.
Graphical Abstract
•BRCA1/BARD1 is a histone-H2A-specific ubiquitin ligase•BRCA1/BARD1 ubiquitylates histone H2A on lysines 127 and 129•Specificity for H2A is provided within in a nucleosomal context•Heterodimeric RING domains of BRCA1/BARD1 are sufficient for E3 function in vivo
The ubiquitin ligase (E3) activity of BRCA1 is its only known biochemical activity in vitro. Kalb et al. report that the heterodimeric complex formed by BRCA1/BARD1 ubiquitylates histone H2A in nucleosomes specifically at its C-terminal tail. Moreover, in vitro and in vivo assays identify H2A lysines127 and 129 as the target lysines. These results help to explain the localization and activity of BRCA1/BARD1 on chromatin in cells.
PMCID: PMC4382519  PMID: 25131202
3.  The UBXN1 Protein Associates with Autoubiquitinated Forms of the BRCA1 Tumor Suppressor and Inhibits Its Enzymatic Function▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2010;30(11):2787-2798.
Although the BRCA1 tumor suppressor has been implicated in many cellular processes, the biochemical mechanisms by which it influences these diverse pathways are poorly understood. The only known enzymatic function of BRCA1 is the E3 ubiquitin ligase activity mediated by its highly conserved RING domain. In vivo, BRCA1 associates with the BARD1 polypeptide to form a heterodimeric BRCA1/BARD1 complex that catalyzes autoubiquitination of BRCA1 and trans ubiquitination of other protein substrates. In most cases, BRCA1-dependent ubiquitination generates polyubiquitin chains bearing an unconventional K6 linkage that does not appear to target proteins for proteasomal degradation. Since ubiquitin-dependent processes are usually mediated by cellular receptors with ubiquitin-binding motifs, we screened for proteins that specifically bind autoubiquitinated BRCA1. Here we report that the UBXN1 polypeptide, which contains a ubiquitin-associated (UBA) motif, recognizes autoubiquitinated BRCA1. This occurs through a bipartite interaction in which the UBA domain of UBXN1 binds K6-linked polyubiquitin chains conjugated to BRCA1 while the C-terminal sequences of UBXN1 bind the BRCA1/BARD1 heterodimer in a ubiquitin-independent fashion. Significantly, the E3 ligase activity of BRCA1/BARD1 is dramatically reduced in the presence of UBXN1, suggesting that UBXN1 regulates the enzymatic function of BRCA1 in a manner that is dependent on its ubiquitination status.
PMCID: PMC2876507  PMID: 20351172
4.  Mechanisms of mono- and poly-ubiquitination: Ubiquitination specificity depends on compatibility between the E2 catalytic core and amino acid residues proximal to the lysine 
Cell Division  2010;5:19.
Ubiquitination involves the attachment of ubiquitin to lysine residues on substrate proteins or itself, which can result in protein monoubiquitination or polyubiquitination. Ubiquitin attachment to different lysine residues can generate diverse substrate-ubiquitin structures, targeting proteins to different fates. The mechanisms of lysine selection are not well understood. Ubiquitination by the largest group of E3 ligases, the RING-family E3 s, is catalyzed through co-operation between the non-catalytic ubiquitin-ligase (E3) and the ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme (E2), where the RING E3 binds the substrate and the E2 catalyzes ubiquitin transfer. Previous studies suggest that ubiquitination sites are selected by E3-mediated positioning of the lysine toward the E2 active site. Ultimately, at a catalytic level, ubiquitination of lysine residues within the substrate or ubiquitin occurs by nucleophilic attack of the lysine residue on the thioester bond linking the E2 catalytic cysteine to ubiquitin. One of the best studied RING E3/E2 complexes is the Skp1/Cul1/F box protein complex, SCFCdc4, and its cognate E2, Cdc34, which target the CDK inhibitor Sic1 for K48-linked polyubiquitination, leading to its proteasomal degradation. Our recent studies of this model system demonstrated that residues surrounding Sic1 lysines or lysine 48 in ubiquitin are critical for ubiquitination. This sequence-dependence is linked to evolutionarily conserved key residues in the catalytic region of Cdc34 and can determine if Sic1 is mono- or poly-ubiquitinated. Our studies indicate that amino acid determinants in the Cdc34 catalytic region and their compatibility to those surrounding acceptor lysine residues play important roles in lysine selection. This may represent a general mechanism in directing the mode of ubiquitination in E2 s.
PMCID: PMC2927562  PMID: 20704751
5.  The ubiquitin E3 ligase activity of BRCA1 and its biological functions 
Cell Division  2008;3:1.
The basal-like breast cancer, a new category of breast cancer associated with poor prognosis and possibly unique chemosensitivity, is a current topic in the breast cancer field. Evidence from multiple sources strongly indicate that impairment of BRCA1 pathways is responsible for this phenotype, implying the importance of BRCA1 not only in familial breast cancers but also in sporadic cancers. BRCA1 acts as a hub protein that coordinates a diverse range of cellular pathways to maintain genomic stability. BRCA1 participates in multiple cellular supercomplexes to execute its tasks and, in most of the complexes, BRCA1 exists as a RING heterodimer with BARD1 to provide ubiquitin E3 ligase activity that is required for its tumor suppressor function. It was revealed recently that the BRCA1 RING finger is capable of catalyzing multiple types of ubiquitination depending upon the interacting E2, the ubiquitin carrier protein. BRCA1 may catalyze distinct ubiquitination on different substrates as the situation demands. On the other hand, in response to DNA double-strand breaks where BRCA1 plays its major role for homologous recombination repair, recent evidence showed that ubiquitination is a critical step to recruit BRCA1 to the damaged site through UIM (ubiquitin interacting motif) containing protein RAP80. Thus, ubiquitin and BRCA1 likely affect each other in many ways to perform cellular functions. Elucidation of this mechanism in relation to cell survival is now much anticipated because it could be a key to predict chemosensitivity of basal-like breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC2254412  PMID: 18179693
6.  The Ubiquitination Machinery of the Ubiquitin System 
The protein ubiquitin is a covalent modifier of proteins, including itself. The ubiquitin system encompasses the enzymes required for catalysing attachment of ubiquitin to substrates as well as proteins that bind to ubiquitinated proteins leading them to their final fate. Also included are activities that remove ubiquitin independent of, or in concert with, proteolysis of the substrate, either by the proteasome or proteases in the vacuole. In addition to ubiquitin encoded by a family of fusion proteins, there are proteins with ubiquitin-like domains, likely forming ubiquitin's β-grasp fold, but incapable of covalent modification. However, they serve as protein-protein interaction platforms within the ubiquitin system. Multi-gene families encode all of these types of activities. Within the ubiquitination machinery “half” of the ubiquitin system are redundant, partially redundant, and unique components affecting diverse developmental and environmental responses in plants. Notably, multiple aspects of biotic and abiotic stress responses require, or are modulated by, ubiquitination. Finally, aspects of the ubiquitin system have broad utility: as components to enhance gene expression or to regulate protein abundance. This review focuses on the ubiquitination machinery: ubiquitin, unique aspects about the synthesis of ubiquitin and organization of its gene family, ubiquitin activating enzymes (E1), ubiquitin conjugating enzymes (E2) and ubiquitin ligases, or E3s. Given the large number of E3s in Arabidopsis this review covers the U box, HECT and RING type E3s, with the exception of the cullin-based E3s.
PMCID: PMC4196676  PMID: 25320573
7.  HP1 regulates the localization of FANCJ at sites of DNA double‐strand breaks 
Cancer Science  2016;107(10):1406-1415.
The breast and ovarian cancer predisposition protein BRCA1 forms three mutually exclusive complexes with Fanconi anemia group J protein (FANCJ, also called BACH1 or BRIP1), CtIP, and Abraxas/RAP80 through its BRCA1 C terminus (BRCT) domains, while its RING domain binds to BRCA1‐associated RING domain 1 (BARD1). We recently found that the interaction between heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1) and BARD1 is required for the accumulation of BRCA1 and CtIP at sites of DNA double‐strand breaks. Here, we investigated the importance of HP1 and BARD1–HP1 interaction in the localization of FANCJ together with the other BRCA1–BRCT binding proteins to clarify the separate role of the HP1‐mediated pathway from the RNF8/RNF168‐induced ubiquitin‐mediated pathway for BRCA1 function. FANCJ interacts with HP1γ in a BARD1‐dependent manner, and this interaction was enhanced by ionizing radiation or irinotecan hydrochloride treatment. Simultaneous depletion of all three HP1 isoforms with shRNAs disrupts the accumulation of FANCJ and CtIP, but not RAP80, at double‐strand break sites. Replacement of endogenous BARD1 with a mutant BARD1 that is incapable of binding to HP1 also disrupts the accumulation of FANCJ and CtIP, but not RAP80. In contrast, RNF168 depletion disrupts the accumulation of only RAP80, but not FANCJ or CtIP. Consequently, the accumulation of conjugated ubiquitin was only inhibited by RNF168 depletion, whereas the accumulation of RAD51 and sister chromatid exchange were only inhibited by HP1 depletion or disruption of the BARD1–HP1 interaction. Taken together, the results suggest that the BRCA1–FANCJ and BRCA1–CtIP complexes are not downstream of the RNF8/RNF168/ubiquitin pathway, but are instead regulated by the HP1 pathway that precedes homologous recombination DNA repair.
PMCID: PMC5084677  PMID: 27399284
BRCA1; CtIP; DNA damage response; FANCJ; HP1
8.  NleG Type 3 Effectors from Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli Are U-Box E3 Ubiquitin Ligases 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(6):e1000960.
NleG homologues constitute the largest family of type 3 effectors delivered by pathogenic E. coli, with fourteen members in the enterohaemorrhagic (EHEC) O157:H7 strain alone. Identified recently as part of the non-LEE-encoded (Nle) effector set, this family remained uncharacterised and shared no sequence homology to other proteins including those of known function. The C-terminal domain of NleG2-3 (residues 90 to 191) is the most conserved region in NleG proteins and was solved by NMR. Structural analysis of this structure revealed the presence of a RING finger/U-box motif. Functional assays demonstrated that NleG2-3 as well as NleG5-1, NleG6-2 and NleG9′ family members exhibited a strong autoubiquitination activity in vitro; a characteristic usually expressed by eukaryotic ubiquitin E3 ligases. When screened for activity against a panel of 30 human E2 enzymes, the NleG2-3 and NleG5-1 homologues showed an identical profile with only UBE2E2, UBE2E3 and UBE2D2 enzymes supporting NleG activity. Fluorescence polarization analysis yielded a binding affinity constant of 56±2 µM for the UBE2D2/NleG5-1 interaction, a value comparable with previous studies on E2/E3 affinities. The UBE2D2 interaction interface on NleG2-3 defined by NMR chemical shift perturbation and mutagenesis was shown to be generally similar to that characterised for human RING finger ubiquitin ligases. The alanine substitutions of UBE2D2 residues Arg5 and Lys63, critical for activation of eukaryotic E3 ligases, also significantly decreased both NleG binding and autoubiquitination activity. These results demonstrate that bacteria-encoded NleG effectors are E3 ubiquitin ligases analogous to RING finger and U-box enzymes in eukaryotes.
Author Summary
Many bacterial pathogens utilize a multiprotein ‘‘injection needle’’ termed the type III secretion system to deliver a set of proteins called effectors into the host cell. These effectors then manipulate host signalling pathways to the advantage of the pathogen, often mimicking eukaryote-specific activities. We present a study of an uncharacterised family of effectors called NleG, secreted primarily by enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) O157:H7, a causative agent of human gastroenteritis. We solved the solution structure of a conserved C-terminal region of an NleG family member by NMR. Structural analysis demonstrated that the NleG structure is similar to the RING finger/U-box domain found primarily in eukaryotic ubiquitin ligases. The activity of these domains in eukaryotes is an essential part of the ubiquitination signalling system. Due to its central role in cell metabolism and the host immune response, the ubiquitination system has emerged as a primary target for bacterial effectors. Our biochemical analysis demonstrated that NleG proteins selectively interact with human E2 ubiquitin conjugating enzymes and exhibit in vitro activity typical of eukaryotic E3 ligases. Our data reveal that NleG effectors structurally and functionally mimic host U-box/RING E3 ubiquitin ligases. Future research will focus on determining targets of NleG ubiquitin ligase activity and the role in E. coli pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2891834  PMID: 20585566
9.  Selective Recruitment of an E2∼Ubiquitin Complex by an E3 Ubiquitin Ligase* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2012;287(21):17374-17385.
Background: Rbx1/ROC1 is an E3 ligase adaptor protein that functions with the E2 enzyme CDC34.
Results: NMR and biochemical data show that Rbx1/ROC1 binds CDC34∼ubiquitin 50-fold tighter than CDC34.
Conclusion: Rbx1/ROC1 selectively recruits E2∼ubiquitin and releases the E2 after ubiquitin transfer.
Significance: Direct evidence is shown for preferential recognition of an E2∼ubiquitin complex by an E3 ligase.
RING E3 ligases are proteins that must selectively recruit an E2-conjugating enzyme and facilitate ubiquitin transfer to a substrate. It is not clear how a RING E3 ligase differentiates a naked E2 enzyme from the E2∼ubiquitin-conjugated form or how this is altered upon ubiquitin transfer. RING-box protein 1 (Rbx1/ROC1) is a key protein found in the Skp1/Cullin-1/F-box (SCF) E3 ubiquitin ligase complex that functions with the E2 ubiquitin conjugating enzyme CDC34. The solution structure of Rbx1/ROC1 revealed a globular RING domain (residues 40–108) stabilized by three structural zinc ions (root mean square deviation 0.30 ± 0.04 Å) along with a disordered N terminus (residues 12–39). Titration data showed that Rbx1/ROC1 preferentially recruits CDC34 in its ubiquitin-conjugated form and favors this interaction by 50-fold compared with unconjugated CDC34. Furthermore, NMR and biochemical assays identified residues in helix α2 of Rbx1/ROC1 that are essential for binding and activating CDC34∼ubiquitin for ubiquitylation. Taken together, this work provides the first direct structural and biochemical evidence showing that polyubiquitylation by the RING E3 ligase Rbx1/ROC1 requires the preferential recruitment of an E2∼ubiquitin complex and subsequent release of the unconjugated E2 protein upon ubiquitin transfer to a substrate or ubiquitin chain.
PMCID: PMC3366790  PMID: 22433864
E3 Ubiquitin Ligase; Enzyme Mechanisms; Protein Complexes; Structural Biology; Ubiquitin Conjugating Enzyme (Ubc); Ubiquitination
10.  Characterization and identification of ubiquitin conjugation sites with E3 ligase recognition specificities 
BMC Bioinformatics  2015;16(Suppl 1):S1.
In eukaryotes, ubiquitin-conjugation is an important mechanism underlying proteasome-mediated degradation of proteins, and as such, plays an essential role in the regulation of many cellular processes. In the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway, E3 ligases play important roles by recognizing a specific protein substrate and catalyzing the attachment of ubiquitin to a lysine (K) residue. As more and more experimental data on ubiquitin conjugation sites become available, it becomes possible to develop prediction models that can be scaled to big data. However, no development that focuses on the investigation of ubiquitinated substrate specificities has existed. Herein, we present an approach that exploits an iteratively statistical method to identify ubiquitin conjugation sites with substrate site specificities.
In this investigation, totally 6259 experimentally validated ubiquitinated proteins were obtained from dbPTM. After having filtered out homologous fragments with 40% sequence identity, the training data set contained 2658 ubiquitination sites (positive data) and 5532 non-ubiquitinated sites (negative data). Due to the difficulty in characterizing the substrate site specificities of E3 ligases by conventional sequence logo analysis, a recursively statistical method has been applied to obtain significant conserved motifs. The profile hidden Markov model (profile HMM) was adopted to construct the predictive models learned from the identified substrate motifs. A five-fold cross validation was then used to evaluate the predictive model, achieving sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of 73.07%, 65.46%, and 67.93%, respectively. Additionally, an independent testing set, completely blind to the training data of the predictive model, was used to demonstrate that the proposed method could provide a promising accuracy (76.13%) and outperform other ubiquitination site prediction tool.
A case study demonstrated the effectiveness of the characterized substrate motifs for identifying ubiquitination sites. The proposed method presents a practical means of preliminary analysis and greatly diminishes the total number of potential targets required for further experimental confirmation. This method may help unravel their mechanisms and roles in E3 recognition and ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation.
PMCID: PMC4331700  PMID: 25707307
ubiquitin conjugation; ubiquitination; substrate site specificity; maximal dependence decomposition; profile hidden Markov model
11.  Quantitative proteomic identification of the BRCA1 ubiquitination substrates 
Journal of proteome research  2011;10(11):5191-5198.
Mutation of the BRCA1 tumor suppressor gene predisposes women to hereditary breast and ovarian cancers. BRCA1 forms a heterodimer with BARD1. The BRCA1/BARD1 heterodimer has ubiquitin ligase activity, considered to play crucial roles in tumor suppression and DNA damage response. Nevertheless, relevant BRCA1 substrates are poorly defined. We have developed a new approach to systematically identify the substrates of ubiquitin ligases by identifying proteins that display enhanced incorporation of His-tagged ubiquitin upon ligase co-expression; using this method, we identified several candidate substrates for BRCA1. These include scaffold attachment factor B2 (SAFB2), Tel2, as well as BARD1. BRCA1 was found to enhance SAFB protein expression and induce Tel2 nuclear translocation. Identification of the ubiquitination substrates has been a major obstacle to understanding the functions of ubiquitin ligases. The quantitative proteomics approach we devised for the identification of BRCA1 substrates will facilitate the identification of ubiquitin ligase-substrate pairs.
PMCID: PMC3208807  PMID: 21950761
BRCA1; BARD1; ubiquitination; substrate; quantitative proteomics
12.  Dynamic Control of Selectivity in the Ubiquitination Pathway Revealed by an ASP to GLU Substitution in an Intra-Molecular Salt-Bridge Network 
PLoS Computational Biology  2012;8(11):e1002754.
Ubiquitination relies on a subtle balance between selectivity and promiscuity achieved through specific interactions between ubiquitin-conjugating enzymes (E2s) and ubiquitin ligases (E3s). Here, we report how a single aspartic to glutamic acid substitution acts as a dynamic switch to tip the selectivity balance of human E2s for interaction toward E3 RING-finger domains. By combining molecular dynamic simulations, experimental yeast-two-hybrid screen of E2-E3 (RING) interactions and mutagenesis, we reveal how the dynamics of an internal salt-bridge network at the rim of the E2-E3 interaction surface controls the balance between an “open”, binding competent, and a “closed”, binding incompetent state. The molecular dynamic simulations shed light on the fine mechanism of this molecular switch and allowed us to identify its components, namely an aspartate/glutamate pair, a lysine acting as the central switch and a remote aspartate. Perturbations of single residues in this network, both inside and outside the interaction surface, are sufficient to switch the global E2 interaction selectivity as demonstrated experimentally. Taken together, our results indicate a new mechanism to control E2-E3 interaction selectivity at an atomic level, highlighting how minimal changes in amino acid side-chain affecting the dynamics of intramolecular salt-bridges can be crucial for protein-protein interactions. These findings indicate that the widely accepted sequence-structure-function paradigm should be extended to sequence-structure-dynamics-function relationship and open new possibilities for control and fine-tuning of protein interaction selectivity.
Author Summary
During their life, proteins undergo various modifications ranging from structural marking or signaling to degradation. One major biochemical process involves ubiquitin, a small and evolutionary conserved protein. This regulatory protein serves as a tag that, when attached to a protein substrate, alters its function, cellular sub-location or commits the labeled protein to destruction in the proteasome. The high specificity of the ubiquitination pathway is achieved through interactions between two large protein families, E2 and E3, that ensure the efficient covalent conjugation of ubiquitin. By comparing two “almost identical” E2 enzymes, we identified a single minute substitution that, operated by a dynamic network of salt-bridges, functions as a subtle switch that controls interaction selectivity toward E3 proteins. Using a combination of bioinformatics and modeling techniques, complemented by mutagenesis and experimental screening of E2-E3 interactions, we unraveled an equilibrium between an “open”, binding-competent and a “closed”, binding-incompetent state. Subtle modifications in this network are sufficient to switch the selectivity profile. These findings should serves as a cautionary tale and raises new challenges for bioinformatics analysis, modeling and experimental engineering of protein-protein interactions. The dynamic nature of the identified regulatory switch suggests that the widely accepted sequence-structure-function paradigm should be extended to sequence-structure-dynamics-function.
PMCID: PMC3486841  PMID: 23133359
13.  DNA Damage Regulates Translation through β-TRCP Targeting of CReP 
PLoS Genetics  2015;11(6):e1005292.
The Skp1-Cul1-F box complex (SCF) associates with any one of a number of F box proteins, which serve as substrate binding adaptors. The human F box protein βTRCP directs the conjugation of ubiquitin to a variety of substrate proteins, leading to the destruction of the substrate by the proteasome. To identify βTRCP substrates, we employed a recently-developed technique, called Ligase Trapping, wherein a ubiquitin ligase is fused to a ubiquitin-binding domain to “trap” ubiquitinated substrates. 88% of the candidate substrates that we examined were bona fide substrates, comprising twelve previously validated substrates, eleven new substrates and three false positives. One βTRCP substrate, CReP, is a Protein Phosphatase 1 (PP1) specificity subunit that targets the translation initiation factor eIF2α to promote the removal of a stress-induced inhibitory phosphorylation and increase cap-dependent translation. We found that CReP is targeted by βTRCP for degradation upon DNA damage. Using a stable CReP allele, we show that depletion of CReP is required for the full induction of eIF2α phosphorylation upon DNA damage, and contributes to keeping the levels of translation low as cells recover from DNA damage.
Author Summary
Approximately 600 human genes encode enzymes that act as ubiquitin ligases, which facilitate the transfer of the small protein ubiquitin to thousands of substrate proteins; “tagging” with ubiquitin often promotes the degradation of the substrate by the proteasome. In this paper, we adapt a technique called Ligase Trapping for use in mammalian cells. Ligase Trapping is a highly accurate method for determining which substrates are targeted by a ubiquitin ligase. Here we use it to identify new substrates of the human cell cycle regulator βTRCP. Our screen was indeed highly accurate, as we were able to validate 88% of the candidate substrates we identified by mass spectrometry. Some of these new substrates were unstable proteins that were stabilized by inhibition of βTRCP, or of the entire class of ubiquitin ligases of which βTRCP is a part. However, others appear to be stable or redundantly-targeted substrates, which have been more difficult to identify with current techniques. This suggests that Ligase Trapping will be able to reliably identify new substrates of human ubiquitin ligases. Further, one of the new βTRCP substrates, CReP, is specifically depleted upon DNA damage, and depletion of CReP contributes to inactivation of the translational machinery upon DNA damage.
PMCID: PMC4474599  PMID: 26091241
14.  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.
PMCID: PMC3049407  PMID: 21245847
EGF; network; proteomics; signaling; ubiquitin
15.  PML Residue Lysine 160 Is Required for the Degradation of PML Induced by Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Regulatory Protein ICP0 
Journal of Virology  2003;77(16):8686-8694.
During the early stages of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) infection, viral immediate-early regulatory protein ICP0 localizes to and disrupts cellular nuclear structures known as PML nuclear bodies or ND10. These activities correlate with the functions of ICP0 in stimulating lytic infection and reactivating quiescent HSV-1. The disruption of ND10 occurs because ICP0 induces the loss of the SUMO-1-modified forms of PML and the subsequent proteasome-mediated degradation of the PML protein. The functions of ICP0 are largely dependent on the integrity of its zinc-binding RING finger domain. Many RING finger proteins have been found to act as ubiquitin E3 ligase enzymes, stimulating the production of conjugated polyubiquitin chains in the presence of ubiquitin, the ubiquitin-activating enzyme E1, and the appropriate E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme. Substrate proteins that become polyubiquitinated are then subject to degradation by proteasomes. We have previously shown that purified full-length ICP0 acts as an efficient E3 ligase in vitro, producing high-molecular-weight polyubiquitin chains in a RING finger-dependent but substrate-independent manner. In this paper we report on investigations into the factors governing the degradation of PML induced by ICP0 in a variety of in vivo and in vitro assays. We found that ICP0 expression increases the levels of ubiquitinated PML in transfected cells. However, ICP0 does not interact with or directly ubiquitinate either unmodified PML or SUMO-1-modified PML in vitro, suggesting either that additional factors are required for the ICP0-mediated ubiquitination of PML in vivo or that PML degradation is an indirect consequence of some other activity of ICP0 at ND10. Using a transfection-based approach and a family of deletion and point mutations of PML, we found that efficient ICP0-induced PML degradation requires sequences within the C-terminal part of PML and lysine residue 160, one of the principal targets for SUMO-1 modification of the protein.
PMCID: PMC167235  PMID: 12885887
16.  UBXN7 docks on neddylated cullin complexes using its UIM motif and causes HIF1α accumulation 
BMC Biology  2012;10:36.
The proteins from the UBA-UBX family interact with ubiquitylated proteins via their UBA domain and with p97 via their UBX domain, thereby acting as substrate-binding adaptors for the p97 ATPase. In particular, human UBXN7 (also known as UBXD7) mediates p97 interaction with the transcription factor HIF1α that is actively ubiquitylated in normoxic cells by a CUL2-based E3 ligase, CRL2. Mass spectrometry analysis of UBA-UBX protein immunoprecipitates showed that they interact with a multitude of E3 ubiquitin-ligases. Conspicuously, UBXN7 was most proficient in interacting with cullin-RING ligase subunits. We therefore set out to determine whether UBXN7 interaction with cullins was direct or mediated by its ubiquitylated targets bound to the UBA domain.
We show that UBXN7 interaction with cullins is independent of ubiquitin- and substrate-binding. Instead, it relies on the UIM motif in UBXN7 that directly engages the NEDD8 modification on cullins. To understand the functional consequences of UBXN7 interaction with neddylated cullins, we focused on HIF1α, a CUL2 substrate that uses UBXD7/p97 as a ubiquitin-receptor on its way to proteasome-mediated degradation. We find that UBXN7 over-expression converts CUL2 to its neddylated form and causes the accumulation of non-ubiquitylated HIF1α. Both of these effects are strictly UIM-dependent and occur only when UBXN7 contains an intact UIM motif. We also show that HIF1α carrying long ubiquitin-chains can recruit alternative ubiquitin-receptors, lacking p97's ATP-dependent segregase activity.
Our study shows that independently of its function as a ubiquitin-binding adaptor for p97, UBXN7 directly interacts with neddylated cullins and causes the accumulation of the CUL2 substrate HIF1α. We propose that by sequestering CUL2 in its neddylated form, UBXN7 negatively regulates the ubiquitin-ligase activity of CRL2 and this might prevent recruitment of ubiquitin-receptors other than p97 to nuclear HIF1α.
PMCID: PMC3349548  PMID: 22537386
cullin; NEDD8; p97; ubiquitin-dependent degradation; UBXD7
17.  The Mechanism of Ubiquitination in the Cullin-RING E3 Ligase Machinery: Conformational Control of Substrate Orientation 
PLoS Computational Biology  2009;5(10):e1000527.
In cullin-RING E3 ubiquitin ligases, substrate binding proteins, such as VHL-box, SOCS-box or the F-box proteins, recruit substrates for ubiquitination, accurately positioning and orienting the substrates for ubiquitin transfer. Yet, how the E3 machinery precisely positions the substrate is unknown. Here, we simulated nine substrate binding proteins: Skp2, Fbw7, β-TrCP1, Cdc4, Fbs1, TIR1, pVHL, SOCS2, and SOCS4, in the unbound form and bound to Skp1, ASK1 or Elongin C. All nine proteins have two domains: one binds to the substrate; the other to E3 ligase modules Skp1/ASK1/Elongin C. We discovered that in all cases the flexible inter-domain linker serves as a hinge, rotating the substrate binding domain, optimally and accurately positioning it for ubiquitin transfer. We observed a conserved proline in the linker of all nine proteins. In all cases, the prolines pucker substantially and the pucker is associated with the backbone rotation toward the E2/ubiquitin. We further observed that the linker flexibility could be regulated allosterically by binding events associated with either domain. We conclude that the flexible linker in the substrate binding proteins orients the substrate for the ubiquitin transfer. Our findings provide a mechanism for ubiquitination and polyubiquitination, illustrating that these processes are under conformational control.
Author Summary
The Ubiquitin-Proteasome System regulates protein degradation via several steps. The cullin-RING E3 ligase machinery is involved in one of these. In this step, ubiquitin is transferred from E2 to the substrate protein, labeling the substrate protein for degradation. However, when E3, E3-substrate and E2-ubiquitin crystal structures are modeled together, the distance between ubiquitinated E2 and the substrate binding site is ∼50–59Å, raising the question how the E3 machinery bridges the distance and orients the substrate for the ubiquitin transfer. We performed explicit solvent simulations for all nine available substrate binding protein complexes in the PDB, with and without the corresponding E3 components to which they are bound. In all of these nine substrate binding proteins, we noticed a flexible linker that rotates the substrate binding domain to a great extent in the same direction, toward the E2-ubiquin. We further noticed that the flexibility is regulated allosterically by binding events associated with either domain. The results suggest that the flexible linker serves as a hinge to rotate the substrate binding domain and to accurately position the substrate for ubiquitination. As such, the simulations suggest an answer to the question of how the machinery operates to orient the substrate for ubiquitination.
PMCID: PMC2741574  PMID: 19798438
18.  Functional Interchangeability of Late Domains, Late Domain Cofactors and Ubiquitin in Viral Budding 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(10):e1001153.
The membrane scission event that separates nascent enveloped virions from host cell membranes often requires the ESCRT pathway, which can be engaged through the action of peptide motifs, termed late (L-) domains, in viral proteins. Viral PTAP and YPDL-like L-domains bind directly to the ESCRT-I and ALIX components of the ESCRT pathway, while PPxY motifs bind Nedd4-like, HECT-domain containing, ubiquitin ligases (e.g. WWP1). It has been unclear precisely how ubiquitin ligase recruitment ultimately leads to particle release. Here, using a lysine-free viral Gag protein derived from the prototypic foamy virus (PFV), where attachment of ubiquitin to Gag can be controlled, we show that several different HECT domains can replace the WWP1 HECT domain in chimeric ubiquitin ligases and drive budding. Moreover, artificial recruitment of isolated HECT domains to Gag is sufficient to stimulate budding. Conversely, the HECT domain becomes dispensable if the other domains of WWP1 are directly fused to an ESCRT-1 protein. In each case where budding is driven by a HECT domain, its catalytic activity is essential, but Gag ubiquitination is dispensable, suggesting that ubiquitin ligation to trans-acting proteins drives budding. Paradoxically, however, we also demonstrate that direct fusion of a ubiquitin moiety to the C-terminus of PFV Gag can also promote budding, suggesting that ubiquitination of Gag can substitute for ubiquitination of trans-acting proteins. Depletion of Tsg101 and ALIX inhibits budding that is dependent on ubiquitin that is fused to Gag, or ligated to trans-acting proteins through the action of a PPxY motif. These studies underscore the flexibility in the ways that the ESCRT pathway can be engaged, and suggest a model in which the identity of the protein to which ubiquitin is attached is not critical for subsequent recruitment of ubiquitin-binding components of the ESCRT pathway and viral budding to proceed.
Author Summary
The release of an enveloped virus particle from an infected cell requires the separation of the viral and cell membranes. Many enveloped viruses accomplish this by parasitizing a set of cellular proteins, termed the ESCRT pathway, that normally separates cellular membranes from each other. In some cases, viral structural proteins encode peptides motifs that bind directly to, and thereby recruit, the ESCRT machinery. Alternatively, viruses can recruit enzymes, termed ubiquitin ligases, that bind to other proteins, and catalyze the addition of ubiquitin to them. It has, heretofore, been somewhat unclear precisely how the recruitment of ubiquitin ligases leads to the engagement of the ESCRT machinery. We show that the simple recruitment of a fragment of a ubiquitin ligase that is responsible for the addition of ubiquitin to other proteins is sufficient to drive virus particle release, even when it is not possible to attach ubiquitin to viral proteins. Paradoxically, we also found that simple attachment of ubiquitin to the same viral protein can also drive particle release. These results show that there is flexibility in the ways in which the ESCRT machinery can be recruited and how ubiquitin can be co-opted to enable this.
PMCID: PMC2958808  PMID: 20975941
19.  A Pathogen Type III Effector with a Novel E3 Ubiquitin Ligase Architecture 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(1):e1003121.
Type III effectors are virulence factors of Gram-negative bacterial pathogens delivered directly into host cells by the type III secretion nanomachine where they manipulate host cell processes such as the innate immunity and gene expression. Here, we show that the novel type III effector XopL from the model plant pathogen Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria exhibits E3 ubiquitin ligase activity in vitro and in planta, induces plant cell death and subverts plant immunity. E3 ligase activity is associated with the C-terminal region of XopL, which specifically interacts with plant E2 ubiquitin conjugating enzymes and mediates formation of predominantly K11-linked polyubiquitin chains. The crystal structure of the XopL C-terminal domain revealed a single domain with a novel fold, termed XL-box, not present in any previously characterized E3 ligase. Mutation of amino acids in the central cavity of the XL-box disrupts E3 ligase activity and prevents XopL-induced plant cell death. The lack of cysteine residues in the XL-box suggests the absence of thioester-linked ubiquitin-E3 ligase intermediates and a non-catalytic mechanism for XopL-mediated ubiquitination. The crystal structure of the N-terminal region of XopL confirmed the presence of a leucine-rich repeat (LRR) domain, which may serve as a protein-protein interaction module for ubiquitination target recognition. While the E3 ligase activity is required to provoke plant cell death, suppression of PAMP responses solely depends on the N-terminal LRR domain. Taken together, the unique structural fold of the E3 ubiquitin ligase domain within the Xanthomonas XopL is unprecedented and highlights the variation in bacterial pathogen effectors mimicking this eukaryote-specific activity.
Author Summary
Numerous bacterial pathogens infecting plants, animals and humans use a common strategy of host colonization, which involves injection of specific proteins termed effectors into the host cell. Identification of effector proteins and elucidation of their individual functions is essential for our understanding of the pathogenesis process. Here, we identify a novel effector, XopL, from Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria, which causes disease in tomato and pepper plants. We show that XopL suppresses PAMP-related defense gene expression and further characterize XopL as an E3 ubiquitin ligase. This eukaryote-specific function involves attachment of ubiquitin molecule(s) to a particular protein targeted for degradation or localisation to specific cell compartments. Ubiquitination processes play a central role in cell-cycle regulation, DNA repair, cell growth and immune responses. In the case of XopL this activity triggers plant cell death. Through structural and functional analysis we demonstrate that XopL contains two distinct domains, one of which demonstrates a novel fold never previously observed in E3 ubiquitin ligases. This novel domain specifically interacts with plant ubiquitination system components. Our findings provide the first insights into the function of a previously unknown XopL effector and identify a new member of the growing family of bacterial pathogenic factors hijacking the host ubiquitination system.
PMCID: PMC3554608  PMID: 23359647
20.  Ubiquitination of Plant Immune Receptors 
Ubiquitin is a highly conserved regulatory protein consisting of 76 amino acids and ubiquitously expressed in all eukaryotic cells. The reversible ubiquitin conjugation to a wide variety of target proteins, a process known as ubiquitination or ubiquitylation, serves as one of the most important and prevalent post-translational modifications to regulate the myriad actions of protein cellular functions, including protein degradation, vesicle trafficking and subcellular localization. Protein ubiquitination is an ATP-dependent stepwise covalent attachment of one or more ubiquitin molecules to target proteins mediated by a hierarchical enzymatic cascade consisting of an E1 ubiquitin-activating enzyme, E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme and E3 ubiquitin-ligase. The plant plasma membrane resident receptor-like kinase Flagellin Sensing 2 (FLS2) recognizes bacterial flagellin and initiates innate immune signaling to defend against pathogen attacks. We have recently shown that two plant U-box E3 ubiquitin-ligases PUB12 and PUB13 directly ubiquitinate FLS2 and promote flagellin-induced FLS2 degradation, which in turn attenuates FLS2 signaling to prevent excessive or prolonged activation of immune responses. Here, we use FLS2 as an example to describe a protocol for detection of protein ubiquitination in plant cells in vivo and in test tubes in vitro. In addition, we elaborate the approach to identify different types of ubiquitin linkages by using various lysine mutants of ubiquitin. The various in vivo and in vitro ubiquitination assays will provide researchers with the tools to address how ubiquitination regulates diverse cellular functions of target proteins.
PMCID: PMC4391743  PMID: 25117287
Ubiquitin; Ubiquitination; Polyubiquitin chain; Immunoblot; Immunoprecipitation (IP)
21.  Parkin, A Top Level Manager in the Cell’s Sanitation Department 
Parkin belongs to a class of multiple RING domain proteins designated as RBR (RING, in between RING, RING) proteins. In this review we examine what is known regarding the structure/function relationship of the Parkin protein. Parkin contains three RING domains plus a ubiquitin-like domain and an in-between-RING (IBR) domain. RING domains are rich in cysteine amino acids that act as ligands to bind zinc ions. RING domains may interact with DNA or with other proteins and perform a wide range of functions. Some function as E3 ubiquitin ligases, participating in attachment of ubiquitin chains to signal proteasome degradation; however, ubiquitin may be attached for purposes other than proteasome degradation.
It was determined that the C-terminal most RING, RING2, is essential for Parkin to function as an E3 ubiquitin ligase and a number of substrates have been identified. However, Parkin also participates in a number of other fiunctions, such as DNA repair, microtubule stabilization, and formation of aggresomes. Some functions, such as participation in a multi-protein complex implicated in NMDA activity at the post synaptic density, do not require ubiquitination of substrate molecules. Recent observations of RING proteins suggest their function may be regulated by zinc ion binding. We have modeled the three RING domains of Parkin and have identified a new set of RING2 ligands. This set allows for binding of two rather than just one zinc ion, opening the possibility that the number of zinc ions bound acts as a molecular switch to modulate Parkin function.
PMCID: PMC3104551  PMID: 21633666
Parkin; zinc-binding; RING; domains; E3 ligase ubiquitination.
22.  Impact of RING and BRCT Domain Mutations on BRCA1 Protein Stability, Localization, and Recruitment to DNA Damage 
Radiation research  2010;174(1):1-13.
Mutations within the tumor suppressor BRCA1 cause the majority of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer cases. The BRCA1 protein is an important regulator of DNA double strand break repair and BRCA1 deficient cells are highly sensitive to ionizing radiation. Furthermore, BRCA1 function may contribute to G2 cell cycle checkpoint enforcement. E3-ubiquitin ligase activity is the only known enzymatic activity of BRCA1, which is mediated by the N-terminal RING finger domain. The C-terminal BRCT repeat domain, which mediates protein-protein interactions, is the only other identified structural domain. By investigating cancer-linked mutations within each domain, we demonstrate that truncation of the BRCT domain greatly impairs the stability and nuclear localization of BRCA1 protein. A missense mutation within the RING domain does not affect these biochemical properties. However, both mutant forms of BRCA1 fail to co-localize in nuclear foci with the known BRCA1-interacting proteins BARD1 and BACH1, which are important for DNA repair. This failure occurs despite the continued ability of the RING mutant protein to interact with BACH1 and the ability of the BRCT mutant to interact with BARD1. Furthermore, neither mutant form of BRCA1 is recruited into DNA-damage-associated foci marked by γH2AX. Therefore, our data suggests that both the RING and BRCT domains of BRCA1 are required for an early step in the function of BRCA1 during DNA repair: recruitment to the sites of DNA damage.
PMCID: PMC4550207  PMID: 20681793
BRCA1; mutations; breast cancer
23.  Molecular and structural insight into lysine selection on substrate and ubiquitin lysine 48 by the ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme Cdc34 
Cell Cycle  2013;12(11):1732-1744.
The attachment of ubiquitin (Ub) to lysines on substrates or itself by ubiquitin-conjugating (E2) and ubiquitin ligase (E3) enzymes results in protein ubiquitination. Lysine selection is important for generating diverse substrate-Ub structures and targeting proteins to different fates; however, the mechanisms of lysine selection are not clearly understood. The positioning of lysine(s) toward the E2/E3 active site and residues proximal to lysines are critical in their selection. We investigated determinants of lysine specificity of the ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme Cdc34, toward substrate and Ub lysines. Evaluation of the relative importance of different residues positioned −2, −1, +1 and +2 toward ubiquitination of its substrate, Sic1, on lysine 50 showed that charged residues in the −1 and −2 positions negatively impact on ubiquitination. Modeling suggests that charged residues at these positions alter the native salt-bridge interactions in Ub and Cdc34, resulting in misplacement of Sic1 lysine 50 in the Cdc34 catalytic cleft. During polyubiquitination, Cdc34 showed a strong preference for Ub lysine 48 (K48), with lower activity towards lysine 11 (K11) and lysine 63 (K63). Mutating the −2, −1, +1 and +2 sites surrounding K11 and K63 to mimic those surrounding K48 did not improve their ubiquitination, indicating that further determinants are important for Ub K48 specificity. Modeling the ternary structure of acceptor Ub with the Cdc34~Ub complex as well as in vitro ubiquitination assays unveiled the importance of K6 and Q62 of acceptor Ub for Ub K48 polyubiquitination. These findings provide molecular and structural insight into substrate lysine and Ub K48 specificity by Cdc34.
PMCID: PMC3713132  PMID: 23656784
ubiquitin; cell cycle; Cdc34; lysine; Sic1; SCF
24.  Bioinformatics analysis identifies several intrinsically disordered human E3 ubiquitin-protein ligases 
PeerJ  2016;4:e1725.
The ubiquitin-proteasome system targets misfolded proteins for degradation. Since the accumulation of such proteins is potentially harmful for the cell, their prompt removal is important. E3 ubiquitin-protein ligases mediate substrate ubiquitination by bringing together the substrate with an E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme, which transfers ubiquitin to the substrate. For misfolded proteins, substrate recognition is generally delegated to molecular chaperones that subsequently interact with specific E3 ligases. An important exception is San1, a yeast E3 ligase. San1 harbors extensive regions of intrinsic disorder, which provide both conformational flexibility and sites for direct recognition of misfolded targets of vastly different conformations. So far, no mammalian ortholog of San1 is known, nor is it clear whether other E3 ligases utilize disordered regions for substrate recognition. Here, we conduct a bioinformatics analysis to examine >600 human and S. cerevisiae E3 ligases to identify enzymes that are similar to San1 in terms of function and/or mechanism of substrate recognition. An initial sequence-based database search was found to detect candidates primarily based on the homology of their ordered regions, and did not capture the unique disorder patterns that encode the functional mechanism of San1. However, by searching specifically for key features of the San1 sequence, such as long regions of intrinsic disorder embedded with short stretches predicted to be suitable for substrate interaction, we identified several E3 ligases with these characteristics. Our initial analysis revealed that another remarkable trait of San1 is shared with several candidate E3 ligases: long stretches of complete lysine suppression, which in San1 limits auto-ubiquitination. We encode these characteristic features into a San1 similarity-score, and present a set of proteins that are plausible candidates as San1 counterparts in humans. In conclusion, our work indicates that San1 is not a unique case, and that several other yeast and human E3 ligases have sequence properties that may allow them to recognize substrates by a similar mechanism as San1.
PMCID: PMC4782732  PMID: 26966660
E3 ligase; Hrd1; San1; Intrinsic disorder; STUbL; Ubiquitin; Protein folding; Protein degradation; Quality control
25.  Regulation of Proteolysis by Human Deubiquitinating Enzymes 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2013;1843(1):10.1016/j.bbamcr.2013.06.027.
The post-translational attachment of one or several ubiquitin molecules to a protein generates a variety of targeting signals that are used in many different ways in the cell. Ubiquitination can alter the activity, localization, protein-protein interactions or stability of the targeted protein. Further, a very large number of proteins are subject to regulation by ubiquitin-dependent processes, meaning that virtually all cellular functions are impacted by these pathways. Nearly a hundred enzymes from five different gene families (the deubiquitinating enzymes or DUBs), reverse this modification by hydrolyzing the (iso)peptide bond tethering ubiquitin to itself or the target protein. Four of these families are thiol proteases and one is a metalloprotease. DUBs of the Ubiquitin C-terminal Hydrolase (UCH) family act on small molecule adducts of ubiquitin, process the ubiquitin proprotein, and trim ubiquitin from the distal end of a polyubiquitin chain. Ubiquitin Specific Proteases (USP) tend to recognize and encounter their substrates by interaction of the variable regions of their sequence with the substrate protein directly, or with scaffolds or substrate adapters in multiprotein complexes. Ovarian Tumor (OTU) domain DUBs show remarkable specificity for different Ub chain linkages and may have evolved to recognize substrates on the basis of those linkages. The Josephin family of DUBs may specialize in distinguishing between polyubiquitin chains of different lengths. Finally, the JAB1/MPN+/MOV34 (JAMM) domain metalloproteases cleave the isopeptide bond near the attachment point of polyubiquitin and substrate, as well as being highly specific for the K63 poly-Ub linkage. These DUBs regulate proteolysis by: directly interacting with and co-regulating E3 ligases; altering the level of substrate ubiquitination; hydrolyzing or remodeling ubiquitinated and poly-ubiquitinated substrates; acting in specific locations in the cell and altering the localization of the target protein; and acting on proteasome bound substrates to facilitate or inhibit proteolysis. Thus, the scope and regulation of the ubiquitin pathway is very similar to that of phosphorylation, with the DUBs serving the same functions as the phosphatase.
PMCID: PMC3833951  PMID: 23845989
Deubiquitinating enzyme; Ubiquitin; Poly-Ubiquitin; Proteolysis; Regulation

Results 1-25 (1902847)