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J Biol Chem. 2008 Mar 21;283(12):8005-13. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M706987200. Epub 2008 Jan 10.

Characterization of Cullin-box sequences that direct recruitment of Cul2-Rbx1 and Cul5-Rbx2 modules to Elongin BC-based ubiquitin ligases.

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  • 1Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Kansas City, Missouri 64110, USA.


The Elongin BC-box protein family includes the von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor and suppressor of cytokine signaling proteins, which are substrate recognition subunits of structurally related classes of E3 ubiquitin ligases composed of Elongin C-Elongin B-Cullin 2-Rbx1 (Cul2 ubiquitin ligases) or of Elongin C-Elongin B-Cullin 5-Rbx2 (Cul5 ubiquitin ligases). The Elongin BC complex acts as an adaptor that links a substrate recognition subunit to heterodimers of either Cullin 2 (Cul2) and RING finger protein Rbx1 or Cullin 5 (Cul5) and Rbx2. It has been shown ( Kamura, T., Maenaka, K., Kotoshiba, S., Matsumoto, M., Kohda, D., Conaway, R. C., Conaway, J. W., and Nakayama, K. I. (2004) Genes Dev. 18, 3055-3065 ) that interaction of BC-box proteins with their cognate Cul-Rbx module is determined by specific regions, called Cul2- or Cul5-boxes, located immediately downstream of their BC-boxes. Here, we investigate further the mechanisms governing assembly of BC-box proteins with their specific Cul-Rbx modules. Through purification and characterization of a larger collection of BC-box proteins that serve as substrate recognition subunits of Cul2 and Cul5 ubiquitin ligases and through structure-function studies, we define Cul2- and Cul5-boxes in greater detail. Although it previously appeared that there was little sequence similarity between Cul5- and Cul2-box motifs, analyses of newly identified BC-box proteins reveal that residues conserved in the Cul2-box represent a subset of those conserved in the Cul5-box. The sequence motif LPPhiP, which is conserved in most Cul5-boxes and has been suggested to specify assembly of Cul5 ligases, is compatible with Cul2 interaction. Finally, the spacing between BC- and Cullin-boxes is much more flexible than has been appreciated and can vary from as few as 3 and as many as approximately 80 amino acids. Taken together, our findings shed new light on the mechanisms by which BC-box proteins direct recruitment of Cullin-Rbx modules during reconstitution of ubiquitin ligases.

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