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Concept: Ubiquitin


Cullin E3 ligases are the largest family of ubiquitin ligases with diverse cellular functions. One of seven cullin proteins serves as a scaffold protein for the assembly of the multisubunit ubiquitin ligase complex. Cullin binds the RING domain protein Rbx1/Rbx2 via its C-terminus and a cullin-specific substrate adaptor protein via its N-terminus. In the Cul3 ubiquitin ligase complex, Cul3 substrate receptors contain a BTB/POZ domain. Several studies have established that Cul3-based E3 ubiquitin ligases exist in a dimeric state which is required for binding of a number of substrates and has been suggested to promote ubiquitin transfer. In two different models, Cul3 has been proposed to dimerize either via BTB/POZ domain dependent substrate receptor homodimerization or via direct interaction between two Cul3 proteins that is mediated by Nedd8 modification of one of the dimerization partners. In this study, we show that the majority of the Cul3 proteins in cells exist as dimers or multimers and that Cul3 self-association is mediated via the Cul3 N-terminus while the Cul3 C-terminus is not required. Furthermore, we show that Cul3 self-association is independent of its modification with Nedd8. Our results provide evidence for BTB substrate receptor dependent Cul3 dimerization which is likely to play an important role in promoting substrate ubiquitination.

Concepts: Proteins, Protein, Enzyme, Dimer, Ubiquitin, Ubiquitin ligase, SCF complex, RING finger domain


The 11 members of the Membrane-associated RING-CH (MARCH) ubiquitin ligase family are relatively unexplored. Upon exogenous (over)expression, a number of these ligases can affect the trafficking of membrane molecules, but only in case of MARCH-1 endogenous functions have been demonstrated. Of the other endogenous MARCH proteins, no functions or substrates are known. We report here that TRAIL-receptor ®1 is a physiological substrate of the endogenous MARCH-8 ligase. The two human TRAIL death receptors play a role in immunosurveillance and are targets for cancer therapy, since they selectively induce apoptosis in tumor cells. We demonstrate that TRAIL-R1 is downregulated from the cell surface, with great preference over TRAIL-R2, by exogenous expression of MARCH ligases that are implicated in endosomal trafficking, such as MARCH-1 and -8. MARCH-8 attenuated TRAIL-R1 cell surface expression and apoptosis signaling by virtue of its ligase activity. This suggested that ubiquitination of TRAIL-R1 was instrumental in its downregulation by MARCH-8. Indeed, in cells with endogenous MARCH expression, TRAIL-R1 was ubiquitinated at steady-state, with the conserved membrane-proximal lysine 273 as interaction and potential acceptor site. This residue was also essential for the interaction of TRAIL-R1 with MARCH-1 and MARCH-8 and its downregulation by these ligases. Gene silencing identified MARCH-8 as the endogenous ligase that ubiquitinates TRAIL-R1 and attenuates its cell surface expression. These findings reveal that endogenous MARCH-8 regulates the steady-state cell surface expression of TRAIL-R1.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Cancer, Enzyme, Posttranslational modification, Proteasome, Ubiquitin, Ubiquitin ligase


A20 has been suggested to limit NF-κB activation by removing regulatory ubiquitin chains from ubiquitinated substrates. A20 is a ubiquitin-editing enzyme that removes K63-linked ubiquitin chains from adaptor proteins, such as RIP1, and then conjugates them to K48-linked polyubiquitin chains to trigger proteasomal degradation. To determine the role of the deubiquitinase function of A20 in downregulating NF-κB signaling, we have generated a knock-in mouse that lacks the deubiquitinase function of A20 (A20-OTU mice). These mice are normal and have no signs of inflammation, have normal proportions of B, T, dendritic, and myeloid cells, respond normally to LPS and TNF, and undergo normal NF-κB activation. Our results thus indicate that the deubiquitinase activity of A20 is dispensable for normal NF-κB signaling.

Concepts: Protein, Gene, Enzyme, Normal distribution, Proteasome, Ubiquitin, Mouse, Normality


Highly pathogenic severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) has developed strategies to inhibit host immune recognition. We identify cellular E3 ubiquitin ligase ring-finger and CHY zinc-finger domain-containing 1 (RCHY1) as an interacting partner of the viral SARS-unique domain (SUD) and papain-like protease (PL(pro)), and, as a consequence, the involvement of cellular p53 as antagonist of coronaviral replication. Residues 95-144 of RCHY1 and 389-652 of SUD (SUD-NM) subdomains are crucial for interaction. Association with SUD increases the stability of RCHY1 and augments RCHY1-mediated ubiquitination as well as degradation of p53. The calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II delta (CAMK2D), which normally influences RCHY1 stability by phosphorylation, also binds to SUD. In vivo phosphorylation shows that SUD does not regulate phosphorylation of RCHY1 via CAMK2D. Similarly to SUD, the PL(pro)s from SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and HCoV-NL63 physically interact with and stabilize RCHY1, and thus trigger degradation of endogenous p53. The SARS-CoV papain-like protease is encoded next to SUD within nonstructural protein 3. A SUD-PL(pro) fusion interacts with RCHY1 more intensively and causes stronger p53 degradation than SARS-CoV PL(pro) alone. We show that p53 inhibits replication of infectious SARS-CoV as well as of replicons and human coronavirus NL63. Hence, human coronaviruses antagonize the viral inhibitor p53 via stabilizing RCHY1 and promoting RCHY1-mediated p53 degradation. SUD functions as an enhancer to strengthen interaction between RCHY1 and nonstructural protein 3, leading to a further increase in in p53 degradation. The significance of these findings is that down-regulation of p53 as a major player in antiviral innate immunity provides a long-sought explanation for delayed activities of respective genes.

Concepts: Posttranslational modification, Severe acute respiratory syndrome, Enzyme inhibitor, Proteasome, Ubiquitin, Ubiquitin ligase, SARS coronavirus, Coronavirus


Translation arrest by polybasic sequences induces ribosome stalling, and the arrest product is degraded by the ribosome-mediated quality control (RQC) system. Here we report that ubiquitination of the 40S ribosomal protein uS10 by the E3 ubiquitin ligase Hel2 (or RQT1) is required for RQC. We identify a RQC-trigger (RQT) subcomplex composed of the RNA helicase-family protein Slh1/Rqt2, the ubiquitin-binding protein Cue3/Rqt3, and yKR023W/Rqt4 that is required for RQC. The defects in RQC of the RQT mutants correlate with sensitivity to anisomycin, which stalls ribosome at the rotated form. Cryo-electron microscopy analysis reveals that Hel2-bound ribosome are dominantly the rotated form with hybrid tRNAs. Ribosome profiling reveals that ribosomes stalled at the rotated state with specific pairs of codons at P-A sites serve as RQC substrates. Rqt1 specifically ubiquitinates these arrested ribosomes to target them to the RQT complex, allowing subsequent RQC reactions including dissociation of the stalled ribosome into subunits.Several protein quality control mechanisms are in place to trigger the rapid degradation of aberrant polypeptides and mRNAs. Here the authors describe a mechanism of ribosome-mediated quality control that involves the ubiquitination of ribosomal proteins by the E3 ubiquitin ligase Hel2/RQT1.

Concepts: Protein, Gene, Amino acid, RNA, Ribosome, Messenger RNA, Ubiquitin, Transfer RNA


Immunomodulatory drugs bind to cereblon (CRBN) to confer differentiated substrate specificity on the CRL4(CRBN) E3 ubiquitin ligase. Here we report the identification of a new cereblon modulator, CC-885, with potent anti-tumour activity. The anti-tumour activity of CC-885 is mediated through the cereblon-dependent ubiquitination and degradation of the translation termination factor GSPT1. Patient-derived acute myeloid leukaemia tumour cells exhibit high sensitivity to CC-885, indicating the clinical potential of this mechanism. Crystallographic studies of the CRBN-DDB1-CC-885-GSPT1 complex reveal that GSPT1 binds to cereblon through a surface turn containing a glycine residue at a key position, interacting with both CC-885 and a ‘hotspot’ on the cereblon surface. Although GSPT1 possesses no obvious structural, sequence or functional homology to previously known cereblon substrates, mutational analysis and modelling indicate that the cereblon substrate Ikaros uses a similar structural feature to bind cereblon, suggesting a common motif for substrate recruitment. These findings define a structural degron underlying cereblon ‘neosubstrate’ selectivity, and identify an anti-tumour target rendered druggable by cereblon modulation.

Concepts: Enzyme, Enzyme substrate, Acute myeloid leukemia, Proteasome, Ubiquitin, Ubiquitin ligase, Ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme, Complex analysis


Ribosome stalling during translation can be harmful, and is surveyed by a conserved quality control pathway that targets the associated mRNA and nascent polypeptide chain (NC). In this pathway, the ribosome-associated quality control (RQC) complex promotes the ubiquitylation and degradation of NCs remaining stalled in the 60S subunit. NC stalling is recognized by the Rqc2/Tae2 RQC subunit, which also stabilizes binding of the E3 ligase, Listerin/Ltn1. Additionally, Rqc2 modifies stalled NCs with a carboxy-terminal, Ala- and Thr-containing extension-the ‘CAT tail.’ However, the function of CAT tails and fate of CAT tail-modified (‘CATylated’) NCs has remained unknown. Here we show that CATylation mediates NC aggregation. NC CATylation and aggregation could be observed by inactivating Ltn1 or by analyzing NCs with limited ubiquitylation potential, suggesting that inefficient targeting by Ltn1 favors the Rqc2-mediated reaction. These findings uncover a translational stalling-dependent protein aggregation mechanism, and provide evidence that proteins can become marked for aggregation.

Concepts: Protein, Protein structure, Amino acid, Ribosome, Peptide, In-gel digestion, Peptide synthesis, Ubiquitin


Angelman syndrome (AS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder caused by maternal deletions or mutations of the ubiquitin ligase E3A (UBE3A) allele and characterized by minimal verbal communication, seizures, and disorders of voluntary movement. Previous studies have suggested that abnormal dopamine neurotransmission may underlie some of these deficits, but no effective treatment currently exists for the core features of AS. A clinical trial of levodopa (l-DOPA) in AS is ongoing, although the underlying rationale for this treatment strategy has not yet been thoroughly examined in preclinical models. We found that AS model mice lacking maternal Ube3a (Ube3am-/p+ mice) exhibit behavioral deficits that correlated with abnormal dopamine signaling. These deficits were not due to loss of dopaminergic neurons or impaired dopamine synthesis. Unexpectedly, Ube3am-/p+ mice exhibited increased dopamine release in the mesolimbic pathway while also exhibiting a decrease in dopamine release in the nigrostriatal pathway, as measured with fast-scan cyclic voltammetry. These findings demonstrate the complex effects of UBE3A loss on dopamine signaling in subcortical motor pathways that may inform ongoing clinical trials of l-DOPA therapy in patients with AS.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Avicenna, Neurotransmitter, Ubiquitin, Dopamine, Mesolimbic pathway, Nigrostriatal pathway, UBE3A


Auxin is a small molecule morphogen that bridges SCF(TIR1/AFB)-AUX/IAA co-receptor interactions leading to ubiquitylation and proteasome-dependent degradation of AUX/IAA transcriptional repressors. Here, we systematically dissect auxin sensing by SCF(TIR1)-IAA6 and SCF(TIR1)-IAA19 co-receptor complexes, and assess IAA6/IAA19 ubiquitylation in vitro and IAA6/IAA19 degradation in vivo. We show that TIR1-IAA19 and TIR1-IAA6 have distinct auxin affinities that correlate with ubiquitylation and turnover dynamics of the AUX/IAA. We establish a system to track AUX/IAA ubiquitylation in IAA6 and IAA19 in vitro and show that it occurs in flexible hotspots in degron-flanking regions adorned with specific Lys residues. We propose that this signature is exploited during auxin-mediated SCF(TIR1)-AUX/IAA interactions. We present evidence for an evolving AUX/IAA repertoire, typified by the IAA6/IAA19 ohnologues, that discriminates the range of auxin concentrations found in plants. We postulate that the intrinsic flexibility of AUX/IAAs might bias their ubiquitylation and destruction kinetics enabling specific auxin responses.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene expression, Transcription, In vivo, In vitro, Ubiquitin, Repressor


Interpreting variants of uncertain significance (VUS) is a central challenge in medical genetics. One approach is to experimentally measure the functional consequences of VUS, but to date this approach has been post hoc and low-throughput. Here we use massively parallel assays to measure the effects of nearly 2,000 missense substitutions in the RING domain of BRCA1 on its E3 ubiquitin ligase activity and its binding to the BARD1 RING domain. From the resulting scores, we generate a model to predict the capacities of full-length BRCA1 variants to support homology-directed DNA repair, the essential role of BRCA1 in tumor suppression, and show that it outperforms widely used biological-effect prediction algorithms. We envision that massively parallel functional assays may facilitate the prospective interpretation of variants observed in clinical sequencing.

Concepts: Scientific method, DNA repair, Hypothesis, Proteasome, Ubiquitin, Ubiquitin ligase, BRCA1, RING finger domain