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1.  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
2.  TRIAD1 and HHARI bind to and are activated by distinct neddylated Cullin-RING ligase complexes 
The EMBO Journal  2013;32(21):2848-2860.
RING (Really Interesting New Gene)-in-between-RING (RBR) enzymes are a distinct class of E3 ubiquitin ligases possessing a cluster of three zinc-binding domains that cooperate to catalyse ubiquitin transfer. The regulation and biological function for most members of the RBR ligases is not known, and all RBR E3s characterized to date are auto-inhibited for in vitro ubiquitylation. Here, we show that TRIAD1 and HHARI, two members of the Ariadne subfamily ligases, associate with distinct neddylated Cullin-RING ligase (CRL) complexes. In comparison to the modest E3 ligase activity displayed by isolated TRIAD1 or HHARI, binding of the cognate neddylated CRL to TRIAD1 or HHARI greatly stimulates RBR ligase activity in vitro, as determined by auto-ubiquitylation, their ability to stimulate dissociation of a thioester-linked UBCH7∼ubiquitin intermediate, and reactivity with ubiquitin-vinyl methyl ester. Moreover, genetic evidence shows that RBR ligase activity impacts both the levels and activities of neddylated CRLs in vivo. Cumulatively, our work proposes a conserved mechanism of CRL-induced Ariadne RBR ligase activation and further suggests a reciprocal role of this special class of RBRs as regulators of distinct CRLs.
TRIAD1 and HHARI bind to and are activated by distinct neddylated Cullin-RING ligase complexes
Ubiquitin ligases of the distinct Cullin-RING ligase (CRL) and RING-between-RING (RBR) families physically and functionally interact, suggesting how RBR ligase auto-inhibition may be relieved in Ariadne-subfamily members.
PMCID: PMC3817463  PMID: 24076655
auto-inhibition; Cullin-RING ligases; HHARI; RBR E3 ubiquitin ligases; TRIAD1
3.  Diversification and Specialization of Plant RBR Ubiquitin Ligases 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11579.
RBR ubiquitin ligases are components of the ubiquitin-proteasome system present in all eukaryotes. They are characterized by having the RBR (RING – IBR – RING) supradomain. In this study, the patterns of emergence of RBR genes in plants are described.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Phylogenetic and structural data confirm that just four RBR subfamilies (Ariadne, ARA54, Plant I/Helicase and Plant II) exist in viridiplantae. All of them originated before the split that separated green algae from the rest of plants. Multiple genes of two of these subfamilies (Ariadne and Plant II) appeared in early plant evolution. It is deduced that the common ancestor of all plants contained at least five RBR genes and the available data suggest that this number has been increasing slowly along streptophyta evolution, although losses, especially of Helicase RBR genes, have also occurred in several lineages. Some higher plants (e. g. Arabidopsis thaliana, Oryza sativa) contain a very large number of RBR genes and many of them were recently generated by tandem duplications. Microarray data indicate that most of these new genes have low-level and sometimes specific expression patterns. On the contrary, and as occurs in animals, a small set of older genes are broadly expressed at higher levels.
The available data suggests that the dynamics of appearance and conservation of RBR genes is quite different in plants from what has been described in animals. In animals, an abrupt emergence of many structurally diverse RBR subfamilies in early animal history, followed by losses of multiple genes in particular lineages, occurred. These patterns are not observed in plants. It is also shown that while both plants and animals contain a small, similar set of essential RBR genes, the rest evolves differently. The functional implications of these results are discussed.
PMCID: PMC2904391  PMID: 20644651
4.  Structure and function of Parkin E3 ubiquitin ligase reveals aspects of RING and HECT ligases 
Nature Communications  2013;4:1982.
Parkin is a RING-between-RING E3 ligase that functions in the covalent attachment of ubiquitin to specific substrates, and mutations in Parkin are linked to Parkinson’s disease, cancer and mycobacterial infection. The RING-between-RING family of E3 ligases are suggested to function with a canonical RING domain and a catalytic cysteine residue usually restricted to HECT E3 ligases, thus termed ‘RING/HECT hybrid’ enzymes. Here we present the 1.58 Å structure of Parkin-R0RBR, revealing the fold architecture for the four RING domains, and several unpredicted interfaces. Examination of the Parkin active site suggests a catalytic network consisting of C431 and H433. In cells, mutation of C431 eliminates Parkin-catalysed degradation of mitochondria, and capture of an ubiquitin oxyester confirms C431 as Parkin’s cellular active site. Our data confirm that Parkin is a RING/HECT hybrid, and provide the first crystal structure of an RING-between-RING E3 ligase at atomic resolution, providing insight into this disease-related protein.
The Parkinson’s disease-associated protein Parkin regulates the fate of damaged mitochondria by ubiquitinating mitochondrial substrates. Riley et al. present the crystal structure of the Parkin-R0RBR domain, providing new insight into the catalytic mechanism of the enzyme.
PMCID: PMC3709503  PMID: 23770887
5.  RBR E3 ubiquitin ligases: new structures, new insights, new questions 
Biochemical Journal  2014;458(Pt 3):421-437.
The RBR (RING-BetweenRING-RING) or TRIAD [two RING fingers and a DRIL (double RING finger linked)] E3 ubiquitin ligases comprise a group of 12 complex multidomain enzymes. This unique family of E3 ligases includes parkin, whose dysfunction is linked to the pathogenesis of early-onset Parkinson's disease, and HOIP (HOIL-1-interacting protein) and HOIL-1 (haem-oxidized IRP2 ubiquitin ligase 1), members of the LUBAC (linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex). The RBR E3 ligases share common features with both the larger RING and HECT (homologous with E6-associated protein C-terminus) E3 ligase families, directly catalysing ubiquitin transfer from an intrinsic catalytic cysteine housed in the C-terminal domain, as well as recruiting thioester-bound E2 enzymes via a RING domain. Recent three-dimensional structures and biochemical findings of the RBRs have revealed novel protein domain folds not previously envisioned and some surprising modes of regulation that have raised many questions. This has required renaming two of the domains in the RBR E3 ligases to more accurately reflect their structures and functions: the C-terminal Rcat (required-for-catalysis) domain, essential for catalytic activity, and a central BRcat (benign-catalytic) domain that adopts the same fold as the Rcat, but lacks a catalytic cysteine residue and ubiquitination activity. The present review discusses how three-dimensional structures of RBR (RING1-BRcat-Rcat) E3 ligases have provided new insights into our understanding of the biochemical mechanisms of these important enzymes in ubiquitin biology.
PMCID: PMC3940038  PMID: 24576094
catalysis; structure; ubiquitination; ubiquitin ligase; ANKIB1, ankyrin repeat- and IBR domain-containing 1; BRcat, benign-catalytic; CCCP, carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone; Cdk5, cyclin-dependent kinase 5; cIAP2, cellular inhibitor of apoptosis 2; CK1, casein kinase 1; CPH, Cul7, Parc and HERC2 proteins; CRL, Cul-RING-ligase; Cul, cullin; Eps15, epidermal growth factor receptor pathway substrate 15; FANCL, Fanconi anaemia, complementation group L; HDAC, histone deacetylase; HECT, homologous with E6-associated protein C-terminus; HOIL-1, haem-oxidized IRP2 ubiquitin ligase 1; HOIP, HOIL-1-interacting protein; IBR, InBetweenRING; LUBAC, linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex; MDM2, murine double minute 2; MIRO, mitochondrial Rho GTPase; NEDD, neural-precursor-cell-expressed developmentally down-regulated; NEMO, NF-κB essential modulator; NF-κB, nuclear factor κB; NZF, Npl4 ZNF; Parc, parkin-like cytoplasmic p53-binding protein; PINK1, PTEN-induced putative kinase 1; PKC, protein kinase C; RanBP2, RAN-binding protein 2; RBR, RING-BetweenRING-RING/RING1-BRcat-Rcat; Rcat, required-for-catalysis; RNF, RING finger protein; RWD, RING finger and WD repeat-containing; SH3, Src homology 3; SHARPIN, SHANK-associated RH domain interactor; SILAC, stable isotope labelling by amino acids in cell culture; SUMO, small ubiquitin-related modifier; TOMM70A, translocase of outer mitochondrial membrane 70 homologue A; TRAF6, tumour-necrosis-factor-receptor-associated factor 6; TRIAD, two RING fingers and a DRIL (double RING finger linked); UBA, ubiquitin-associated; UBE2L, ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme E2L; UIM, ubiquitin-interacting motif; Ubl, ubiquitin-like; ZNF, zinc finger
6.  The E3 ligase HOIP specifies linear ubiquitin chain assembly through its RING-IBR-RING domain and the unique LDD extension 
The EMBO Journal  2012;31(19):3833-3844.
The E3 ligase HOIP specifies linear ubiquitin chain assembly through its RING-IBR-RING domain and the unique LDD extension
Like Parkin, the linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex LUBAC functions as a RING/HECT-hybrid ubiquitin ligase, but includes a unique extension that dictates linear ubiquitin linkage specificity.
Activation of the NF-κB pathway requires the formation of Met1-linked ‘linear' ubiquitin chains on NEMO, which is catalysed by the Linear Ubiquitin Chain Assembly Complex (LUBAC) E3 consisting of HOIP, HOIL-1L and Sharpin. Here, we show that both LUBAC catalytic activity and LUBAC specificity for linear ubiquitin chain formation are embedded within the RING-IBR-RING (RBR) ubiquitin ligase subunit HOIP. Linear ubiquitin chain formation by HOIP proceeds via a two-step mechanism involving both RING and HECT E3-type activities. RING1-IBR catalyses the transfer of ubiquitin from the E2 onto RING2, to transiently form a HECT-like covalent thioester intermediate. Next, the ubiquitin is transferred from HOIP onto the N-terminus of a target ubiquitin. This transfer is facilitated by a unique region in the C-terminus of HOIP that we termed ‘Linear ubiquitin chain Determining Domain' (LDD), which may coordinate the acceptor ubiquitin. Consistent with this mechanism, the RING2-LDD region was found to be important for NF-κB activation in cellular assays. These data show how HOIP combines a general RBR ubiquitin ligase mechanism with unique, LDD-dependent specificity for producing linear ubiquitin chains.
PMCID: PMC3463842  PMID: 22863777
E3 ligase; HHARI; Parkin; RNF31; TRIAD
7.  Genome-Wide Identification and Characterization of RBR Ubiquitin Ligase Genes in Soybean 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87282.
RBR (RING1-IBR-RING2) proteins play an important role in protein ubiquitination and are involved in many cellular processes. Recent studies showed plant RBR genes were induced by abiotic and biotic stresses. However, detailed studies on RBR genes in the important oil crop, soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.), is still lacking. Here we performed a genome-wide search and identified 24 RBR domain-containing genes from the soybean genome sequence and cloned 11 of them. Most soybean RBR proteins contain a highly conserved RBR supra-domain. Phylogenetic analyses indicated all 24 soybean RBR proteins are most related to the RBR proteins from Phaseolus vulgaris, and could be classified into seven groups including Ariadne A, Ariadne B, ARA54, Plant IIA, Plant IIB, Plant IIC, and Helicase. Tandem duplication and block duplication were found among the Ariadne B and Plant IIC group of soybean RBR genes. Despite the conserved RBR supra-domain, there are extensive variations in the additional protein motifs and exon-intron structures between different groups, which indicate they might have diverse functions. Most soybean RBR proteins are predicted to localize in nucleus, and four of them were experimentally confirmed by GFP fusion proteins. Soybean RBR genes are broadly expressed in many tissue types with a little more abundant in the roots and flowers than leaves, stems, and seeds. The expression of GmRTRTP3 (Plant IIB) and GmRTRTP5 (Plant IIC) are induced by NaCl treatment, which suggests these RBR genes might be involved in soybean response to abiotic stresses.
PMCID: PMC3904995  PMID: 24489889
8.  LUBAC synthesizes linear ubiquitin chains via a thioester intermediate 
EMBO Reports  2012;13(9):840-846.
LUBAC synthesizes linear ubiquitin chains via a thioester intermediate
The N-terminus of the LUBAC catalytic subunit is shown to be autoinhibitory and counteracted by the other subunits of the complex. Linear ubiquitination proceeds through a thioesther intermediate, indicative of a RING/HECT hybrid mechanism.
The linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex (LUBAC) is a RING E3 ligase that regulates immune and inflammatory signalling pathways. Unlike classical RING E3 ligases, LUBAC determines the type of ubiquitin chain being formed, an activity normally associated with the E2 enzyme. We show that the RING-in-between-RING (RBR)-containing region of HOIP—the catalytic subunit of LUBAC—is sufficient to generate linear ubiquitin chains. However, this activity is inhibited by the N-terminal portion of the molecule, an inhibition that is released upon complex formation with HOIL-1L or SHARPIN. Furthermore, we demonstrate that HOIP transfers ubiquitin to the substrate through a thioester intermediate formed by a conserved cysteine in the RING2 domain, supporting the notion that RBR ligases act as RING/HECT hybrids.
PMCID: PMC3432797  PMID: 22791023
E3 ligase; mechanism; thioester; ubiquitination
9.  Structure of the human Parkin ligase domain in an autoinhibited state 
The EMBO Journal  2013;32(15):2099-2112.
Mutations in the protein Parkin are associated with Parkinson's disease (PD), the second most common neurodegenerative disease in men. Parkin is an E3 ubiquitin (Ub) ligase of the structurally uncharacterized RING-in-between-RING(IBR)-RING (RBR) family, which, in an HECT-like fashion, forms a catalytic thioester intermediate with Ub. We here report the crystal structure of human Parkin spanning the Unique Parkin domain (UPD, also annotated as RING0) and RBR domains, revealing a tightly packed structure with unanticipated domain interfaces. The UPD adopts a novel elongated Zn-binding fold, while RING2 resembles an IBR domain. Two key interactions keep Parkin in an autoinhibited conformation. A linker that connects the IBR with the RING2 over a 50-Å distance blocks the conserved E2∼Ub binding site of RING1. RING2 forms a hydrophobic interface with the UPD, burying the catalytic Cys431, which is part of a conserved catalytic triad. Opening of intra-domain interfaces activates Parkin, and enables Ub-based suicide probes to modify Cys431. The structure further reveals a putative phospho-peptide docking site in the UPD, and explains many PD-causing mutations.
Structure of the human Parkin ligase domain in an autoinhibited state
The complete structural view of a RING-IBR-RING (RBR) ubiquitin ligase domain reveals an unexpected catalytic triad and explains the effects of various Parkin mutations underlying Parkinson's disease.
PMCID: PMC3730226  PMID: 23727886
E3 ligase; neurodegenerative disease; Parkin; ubiquitin; X-ray crystallography
10.  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
11.  VprBP (DCAF1): a promiscuous substrate recognition subunit that incorporates into both RING-family CRL4 and HECT-family EDD/UBR5 E3 ubiquitin ligases 
BMC Molecular Biology  2013;14:22.
The terminal step in the ubiquitin modification system relies on an E3 ubiquitin ligase to facilitate transfer of ubiquitin to a protein substrate. The substrate recognition and ubiquitin transfer activities of the E3 ligase may be mediated by a single polypeptide or may rely on separate subunits. The latter organization is particularly prevalent among members of largest class of E3 ligases, the RING family, although examples of this type of arrangement have also been reported among members of the smaller HECT family of E3 ligases. This review describes recent discoveries that reveal the surprising and distinctive ability of VprBP (DCAF1) to serve as a substrate recognition subunit for a member of both major classes of E3 ligase, the RING-type CRL4 ligase and the HECT-type EDD/UBR5 ligase. The cellular processes normally regulated by VprBP-associated E3 ligases, and their targeting and subversion by viral accessory proteins are also discussed. Taken together, these studies provide important insights and raise interesting new questions regarding the mechanisms that regulate or subvert VprBP function in the context of both the CRL4 and EDD/UBR5 E3 ligases.
PMCID: PMC3847654  PMID: 24028781
VprBP; DCAF1; DDB1; Cul4; CRL4; EDD; UBR5; Dyrk2; Merlin; Katanin; UNG2; LGL2; Mcm10; Histone H3; RORα; Methyl degron; p53; TERT; telomerase; RAG1; V(D)J recombination; HIV; Vpr; Vpx; UL35; Ubiquitin; E3 ubiquitin ligase; RING; HECT; WD40 repeat
12.  Structure of HHARI, a RING-IBR-RING ubiquitin ligase: autoinhibition of an Ariadne-family E3 and insights into ligation mechanism 
Structure (London, England : 1993)  2013;21(6):1030-1041.
A distinctive mechanism for ubiquitin (Ub) ligation has recently been proposed for the RING1-IBR-RING2 (RBR) family of E3s: an N-terminal RING1 domain recruits a thioester-linked intermediate complex between Ub and the E2 UbcH7, and a structurally unique C-terminal RING2 domain displays a catalytic cysteine required for Ub ligation. To obtain insights into RBR E3s, we determined the crystal structure of the Human Homolog of Ariadne (HHARI), which reveals the individual RING1, IBR, and RING2 domains embedded in superdomains involving sequences specific to the Ariadne RBR subfamily. The central IBR is flanked on one side by RING1, which is exposed and binds UbcH7. On the other side, a C-terminal autoinhibitory “Ariadne domain” masks the RING2 active site. Insights into RBR E3 mechanisms are provided by structure-based mutations that indicate distinct steps of relief from autoinhibition, Ub transfer from E2 to HHARI, and ligation from the HHARI cysteine to a terminal acceptor.
PMCID: PMC3747818  PMID: 23707686
13.  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.
14.  A Putative Ariadne-Like Ubiquitin Ligase Is Required for Dictyostelium discoideum Development 
Eukaryotic Cell  2006;5(10):1820-1825.
The Dictyostelium rbrA gene encodes a putative Ariadne ubiquitin ligase. rbrA− cells form defective slugs that cannot phototax. Prestalk cell numbers are reduced in rbrA− slugs, and these prestalk cells do not localize to the tip of slugs. Chimeric slugs containing wild-type cells could phototax and form fruiting bodies.
PMCID: PMC1595333  PMID: 17031003
15.  PINK1 drives Parkin self-association and HECT-like E3 activity upstream of mitochondrial binding 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2013;200(2):163-172.
PINK1 activates the HECT-like E3 ubiquitin ligase activity and self-association of Parkin upstream of its translocation to mitochondria and induction of mitophagy.
Genetic studies indicate that the mitochondrial kinase PINK1 and the RING-between-RING E3 ubiquitin ligase Parkin function in the same pathway. In concurrence, mechanistic studies show that PINK1 can recruit Parkin from the cytosol to the mitochondria, increase the ubiquitination activity of Parkin, and induce Parkin-mediated mitophagy. Here, we used a cell-free assay to recapitulate PINK1-dependent activation of Parkin ubiquitination of a validated mitochondrial substrate, mitofusin 1. We show that PINK1 activated the formation of a Parkin–ubiquitin thioester intermediate, a hallmark of HECT E3 ligases, both in vitro and in vivo. Parkin HECT-like ubiquitin ligase activity was essential for PINK1-mediated Parkin translocation to mitochondria and mitophagy. Using an inactive Parkin mutant, we found that PINK1 stimulated Parkin self-association and complex formation upstream of mitochondrial translocation. Self-association occurred independent of ubiquitination activity through the RING-between-RING domain, providing mechanistic insight into how PINK1 activates Parkin.
PMCID: PMC3549971  PMID: 23319602
16.  Linear ubiquitin assembly complex negatively regulates RIG-I and TRIM25 mediated type-I interferon induction 
Molecular cell  2011;41(3):354-365.
Upon detection of viral RNA, retinoic acid inducible gene I (RIG-I) undergoes TRIM25-mediated Lys-63 linked ubiquitination, leading to type-I interferon (IFN) production. In this study, we demonstrate that the linear ubiquitin assembly complex (LUBAC), comprised of two RING-IBR-RING (RBR)-containing E3 ligases HOIL-1L and HOIP, independently targets TRIM25 and RIG-I to effectively suppress virus-induced IFN production. RBR E3 ligase domains of HOIL-1L and HOIP bind and induce proteosomal degradation of TRIM25, whereas the NZF domain of HOIL-1L competes with TRIM25 for RIG-I binding. Consequently, both actions by the HOIL-1L/HOIP LUBAC potently inhibit RIG-I ubiquitination and anti-viral activity, but in a mechanistically separate manner. Conversely, the genetic deletion or depletion of HOIL-1L and HOIP robustly enhances virus-induced type-I IFN production. Taken together, the HOIL-1L/HOIP LUBAC specifically suppresses RIG-I ubiquitination and activation by inducing TRIM25 degradation and inhibiting TRIM25 interaction with RIG-I, resulting in the comprehensive suppression of the IFN-mediated anti-viral signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC3070481  PMID: 21292167
17.  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
18.  UbcH7 reactivity profile reveals Parkin and HHARI to be RING/HECT hybrids 
Nature  2011;474(7349):105-108.
Although the functional interaction between ubiquitin conjugating enzymes (E2s) and ubiquitin ligases (E3s) is essential in ubiquitin (Ub) signaling, the criteria that define an active E2–E3 pair are not well-established. The human E2 UbcH7 (Ube2L3) shows broad specificity for HECT-type E3s1, but often fails to function with RING E3s in vitro despite forming specific complexes2–4. Structural comparisons of inactive UbcH7/RING complexes with active UbcH5/RING complexes reveal no defining differences3,4, highlighting a gap in our understanding of Ub transfer. We show that, unlike many E2s that transfer Ub with RINGs, UbcH7 lacks intrinsic, E3-independent reactivity with lysine, explaining its preference for HECTs. Despite lacking lysine reactivity, UbcH7 exhibits activity with the RING-In Between-RING (RBR) family of E3s that includes Parkin and human homologue of ariadne (HHARI)5,6. Found in all eukaryotes7, RBRs regulate processes such as translation8 and immune signaling9. RBRs contain a canonical C3HC4-type RING, followed by two conserved Cys/His-rich Zn2+-binding domains, In-Between-RING (IBR) and RING2 domains, which together define this E3 family7. Here we show that RBRs function like RING/HECT hybrids: they bind E2s via a RING domain, but transfer Ub through an obligate thioester-linked Ub (denoted ‘~Ub’), requiring a conserved cysteine residue in RING2. Our results define the functional cadre of E3s for UbcH7, an E2 involved in cell proliferation10 and immune function11, and suggest a novel mechanism for an entire class of E3s.
PMCID: PMC3444301  PMID: 21532592
19.  The ring between ring fingers (RBR) protein family 
Genome Biology  2007;8(3):209.
An overview of the large and functionally diverse RBR protein family that mediates protein-protein interactions of various kinds in development and disease.
Proteins of the ring between ring fingers (RBR)-domain family are characterized by three groups of specifically clustered (typically eight) cysteine and histidine residues. Whereas the amino-terminal ring domain (N-RING) binds two zinc ions and folds into a classical cross-brace ring finger, the carboxy-terminal ring domain (C-RING) involves only one zinc ion. The three-dimensional structure of the central ring domain, the IBR domain, is still unsolved. About 400 genes coding for RBR proteins have been identified in the genomes of uni- and multicellular eukaryotes and some of their viruses, but the family has not been found in archaea or bacteria. The RBR proteins are classified into 15 major subfamilies (besides some orphan cases) by the phylogenetic relationships of the RBR segments and the conservation of their sequence architecture. The RBR domain mediates protein-protein interactions and a subset of RBR proteins has been shown to function as E3 ubiquitin ligases. RBR proteins have attracted interest because of their involvement in diseases such as parkinsonism, dementia with Lewy bodies, and Alzheimer's disease, and in susceptibility to some intracellular bacterial pathogens. Here, we present an overview of the RBR-domain containing proteins and their subcellular localization, additional domains, function, specificity, and regulation.
PMCID: PMC1868946  PMID: 17367545
20.  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
21.  Expansion and Diversification of BTL Ring-H2 Ubiquitin Ligases in Angiosperms: Putative Rabring7/BCA2 Orthologs 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72729.
RING finger E3 ligases are components of the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS) that mediate the transfer of ubiquitin to substrates. Single-subunit RING finger E3s binds the E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme and contains recognition sequences for the substrate within the same polypeptide. Here we describe the characterization of a class of RING finger E3 ligases that is conserved among eukaryotes. This class encodes a RING-H2 domain related in sequence to the ATL RING-H2 domain, another class of E3 ligases, and a C2/C2 zing finger at the amino-terminus, formerly described as BZF. In viridiplantae (green algae and land plants), we designed this family as BTL for BZF ATLs. BTLs are putative orthologs of the mammalian Rabring7/BCA2 RING-H2 E3s that have expanded in angiosperms. They are found in numbers ranging from three to thirty-one, which is in contrast to the one to three members normally found in animals, fungi, and protists. Furthermore, the number of sequence LOGOs generated in angiosperms is four times greater than that in other eukaryotes. In contrast to ATLs, which show expansion by tandem duplication, tandemly duplicated BTLs are scarce. The mode of action of Rabring7/BCA2 and BTLs may be similar since both the Rabring7/BCA2 BZF and the ath|BTL4 BZF are likely to mediate the binding of ubiquitin. This study introduces valuable information on the evolution and domain structure of the Rabring7/BCA2/BTL class of E3 ligases which may be important for core eukaryotic genes.
PMCID: PMC3738576  PMID: 23951330
22.  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
23.  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
24.  Animal HECT ubiquitin ligases: evolution and functional implications 
HECT ubiquitin ligases (HECT E3s) are key components of the eukaryotic ubiquitin-proteasome system and are involved in the genesis of several human diseases. In this study, I analyze the patterns of diversification of HECT E3s since animals emerged in order to provide the right framework to understand the functional data available for proteins of this family.
I show that the current classification of HECT E3s into three groups (NEDD4-like E3s, HERCs and single-HECT E3s) is fundamentally incorrect. First, the existence of a "Single-HECT E3s" group is not supported by phylogenetic analyses. Second, the HERC proteins must be divided into two subfamilies (Large HERCs, Small HERCs) that are evolutionarily very distant, their structural similarity being due to convergence and not to a common origin. Sequence and structural analyses show that animal HECT E3s can be naturally classified into 16 subfamilies. Almost all of them appeared either before animals originated or in early animal evolution. More recently, multiple gene losses have occurred independently in some lineages (nematodes, insects, urochordates), the same groups that have also lost genes of another type of E3s (RBR family). Interestingly, the emergence of some animal HECT E3s precedes the origin of key cellular systems that they regulate (TGF-β and EGF signal transduction pathways; p53 family of transcription factors) and it can be deduced that distantly related HECT proteins have been independently co-opted to perform similar roles. This may contribute to explain why distantly related HECT E3s are involved in the genesis of multiple types of cancer.
The complex evolutionary history of HECT ubiquitin ligases in animals has been deciphered. The most appropriate model animals to study them and new theoretical and experimental lines of research are suggested by these results.
PMCID: PMC2837046  PMID: 20175895
25.  Structure of a RING E3 ligase and ubiquitin-loaded E2 primed for catalysis 
Nature  2012;489(7414):115-120.
Ubiquitin modification is mediated by a large family of specificity determining ubiquitin E3 ligases. To facilitate ubiquitin transfer, RING E3 ligases bind both substrate and a ubiquitin E2 conjugating enzyme linked to ubiquitin via a thioester bond, but the mechanism of transfer has remained elusive. Here we report the crystal structure of the dimeric RING of RNF4 in complex with E2 (UbcH5a) linked by an isopeptide bond to ubiquitin. While the E2 contacts a single protomer of the RING, ubiquitin is folded back onto the E2 by contacts from both RING protomers. The C-terminal tail of ubiquitin is locked into an active site groove on the E2 by an intricate network of interactions, resulting in changes at the E2 active site. This arrangement is primed for catalysis as it can deprotonate the incoming substrate lysine residue and stabilise the consequent tetrahedral transition state intermediate.
PMCID: PMC3442243  PMID: 22842904

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