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1.  Novel Cul3 binding proteins function to remodel E3 ligase complexes 
BMC Cell Biology  2014;15:28.
Background
Cullins belong to a family of scaffold proteins that assemble multi-subunit ubiquitin ligase complexes to recruit protein substrates for ubiquitination via unique sets of substrate adaptor, such as Skp1 or Elongin B, and a substrate-binding protein with a conserved protein-protein interacting domain, such as leucine-rich repeats (LRR), a WD40 domain, or a zinc-finger domain. In the case of the Cullin3 (Cul3), it forms a BTB-Cul3-Rbx1 (BCR) ubiquitin ligase complex where it is believed that a BTB domain-containing protein performs dual functions where it serves as both the substrate adaptor and the substrate recognition protein.
Results
Tandem affinity purification and LC/MS-MS analysis of the BCR complex led to the identification of 10,225 peptides. After the SEQUEST algorithm and CDART program were used for protein identification and domain prediction, we discovered a group of Cul3-bound proteins that contain either the LRR or WD40 domain (CLWs). Further biochemical analysis revealed that the LRR domain-containing CLWs could bind both Cul3 and BTB domain-containing proteins. The dual binding role for the LRR domain-containing CLWs results in causing the BTB-domain protein to become a substrate instead of an adaptor.
To further distinguish potential substrates from other components that are part of the BCR ubiquitin ligase complex, we altered the parameters in the SEQUEST algorithm to select for peptide fragments with a modified lysine residue. This method not only identifies the potential substrates of the BCR ubiquitin ligase complex, but it also pinpoints the lysine residue in which the post-translational modification occurs. Interestingly, none of the CLWs were identified by this method, supporting our hypothesis that CLWs were not potential substrates but rather additional components of the BCR ubiquitin ligase complex.
Conclusion
Our study identified a new set of Cul3-binding proteins known as CLWs via tandem affinity purification and LC/MS-MS analysis. Subsequently, our biochemical analysis revealed that some CLWs modify binding of BTB domain-containing proteins to the complex, causing degradation of the BTB domain-containing protein. As these CLWs were excluded from our list of substrates, we propose that CLWs serve as unique Cul3 binding proteins that provide an alternative regulatory mechanism for the complex.
doi:10.1186/1471-2121-15-28
PMCID: PMC4107866  PMID: 25011449
Cullin3; Tandem-affinity purification; BTB domain-containing protein; BCR ubiquitin ligase complex; Mass spectrometry; E3 ubiquitin ligase; Protein purification; Ubiquitin; Ubiquitin ligase
2.  Insights into the Prostanoid Pathway in the Ovary Development of the Penaeid Shrimp Penaeus monodon 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76934.
The prostanoid pathway converts polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) into bioactive lipid mediators, including prostaglandins, thromboxanes and prostacyclins, all of which play vital roles in the immune and reproductive systems in most animal phyla. In crustaceans, PUFAs and prostaglandins have been detected and often associated with female reproductive maturation. However, the presence of prostanoid biosynthesis genes remained in question in these species. In this study, we outlined the prostanoid pathway in the black tiger shrimp Penaeus monodon based on the amplification of nine prostanoid biosynthesis genes: cytosolic phospholipase A2, hematopoietic prostaglandin D synthase, glutathione-dependent prostaglandin D synthase, prostaglandin E synthase 1, prostaglandin E synthase 2, prostaglandin E synthase 3, prostaglandin F synthase, thromboxane A synthase and cyclooxygenase. TBLASTX analysis confirmed the identities of these genes with 51-99% sequence identities to their closest homologs. In addition, prostaglandin F2α (PGF2α), which is a product of the prostaglandin F synthase enzyme, was detected for the first time in P. monodon ovaries along with the previously identified PUFAs and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) using RP-HPLC and mass-spectrometry. The prostaglandin synthase activity was also observed in shrimp ovary homogenates using in vitro activity assay. When prostaglandin biosynthesis was examined in different stages of shrimp ovaries, we found that the amounts of prostaglandin F synthase gene transcripts and PGF2α decreased as the ovaries matured. These findings not only indicate the presence of a functional prostanoid pathway in penaeid shrimp, but also suggest a possible role of the PGF2α biosynthesis in shrimp ovarian development.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076934
PMCID: PMC3792876  PMID: 24116186
3.  The Cullin3 Ubiquitin Ligase Functions as a Nedd8-bound Heterodimer 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2007;18(3):899-909.
Cullins are members of a family of scaffold proteins that assemble multisubunit ubiquitin ligase complexes to confer substrate specificity for the ubiquitination pathway. Cullin3 (Cul3) forms a catalytically inactive BTB-Cul3-Rbx1 (BCR) ubiquitin ligase, which becomes functional upon covalent attachment of the ubiquitin homologue neural-precursor-cell-expressed and developmentally down regulated 8 (Nedd8) near the C terminus of Cul3. Current models suggest that Nedd8 activates cullin complexes by providing a recognition site for a ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme. Based on the following evidence, we propose that Nedd8 activates the BCR ubiquitin ligase by mediating the dimerization of Cul3. First, Cul3 is found as a neddylated heterodimer bound to a BTB domain-containing protein in vivo. Second, the formation of a Cul3 heterodimer is mediated by a Nedd8 molecule, which covalently attaches itself to one Cul3 molecule and binds to the winged-helix B domain at the C terminus of the second Cul3 molecule. Third, complementation experiments revealed that coexpression of two distinct nonfunctional Cul3 mutants can rescue the ubiquitin ligase function of the BCR complex. Likewise, a substrate of the BCR complex binds heterodimeric Cul3, suggesting that the Cul3 complex is active as a dimer. These findings not only provide insight into the architecture of the active BCR complex but also suggest assembly as a regulatory mechanism for activation of all cullin-based ubiquitin ligases.
doi:10.1091/mbc.E06-06-0542
PMCID: PMC1805106  PMID: 17192413

Results 1-3 (3)