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J Biol Chem. 2001 Sep 21;276(38):35368-74. Epub 2001 Jul 12.

Polymeric chains of SUMO-2 and SUMO-3 are conjugated to protein substrates by SAE1/SAE2 and Ubc9.

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  • 1Institute of Biomolecular Sciences, University of St. Andrews, North Haugh, St. Andrews KY16 5ST, United Kingdom.


Conjugation of the small ubiquitin-like modifier SUMO-1/SMT3C/Sentrin-1 to proteins in vitro is dependent on a heterodimeric E1 (SAE1/SAE2) and an E2 (Ubc9). Although SUMO-2/SMT3A/Sentrin-3 and SUMO-3/SMT3B/Sentrin-2 share 50% sequence identity with SUMO-1, they are functionally distinct. Inspection of the SUMO-2 and SUMO-3 sequences indicates that they both contain the sequence psiKXE, which represents the consensus SUMO modification site. As a consequence SAE1/SAE2 and Ubc9 catalyze the formation of polymeric chains of SUMO-2 and SUMO-3 on protein substrates in vitro, and SUMO-2 chains are detected in vivo. The ability to form polymeric chains is not shared by SUMO-1, and although all SUMO species use the same conjugation machinery, modification by SUMO-1 and SUMO-2/-3 may have distinct functional consequences.

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