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Genes Dev. 2010 May;24(9):893-903. doi: 10.1101/gad.1906510. Epub 2010 Apr 13.

SUMO-independent in vivo activity of a SUMO-targeted ubiquitin ligase toward a short-lived transcription factor.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.


Many proteins are regulated by ubiquitin-dependent proteolysis. Substrate ubiquitylation can be stimulated by additional post-translational modifications, including small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) conjugation. The recently discovered SUMO-targeted ubiquitin ligases (STUbLs) mediate the latter effect; however, no endogenous substrates of STUbLs that are degraded under normal conditions are known. From a targeted genomic screen, we now identify the yeast STUbL Slx5-Slx8, a heterodimeric RING protein complex, as a key ligase mediating degradation of the MATalpha2 (alpha2) repressor. The ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme Ubc4 was found in the same screen. Surprisingly, mutants with severe defects in SUMO-protein conjugation were not impaired for alpha2 turnover. Unmodified alpha2 also bound to and was ubiquitylated efficiently by Slx5-Slx8. Nevertheless, when we inactivated four SUMO-interacting motifs (SIMs) in Slx5 that together account for its noncovalent SUMO binding, both in vitro Slx5-Slx8-dependent ubiquitylation and in vivo degradation of alpha2 were inhibited. These data identify alpha2 as the first native substrate of the conserved STUbLs, and demonstrate that its STUbL-mediated ubiquitylation does not require SUMO. We suggest that alpha2, and presumably other proteins, have surface features that mimic SUMO, and therefore can directly recruit STUbLs without prior SUMO conjugation.

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