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Genetics. 2011 Jan;187(1):73-87. doi: 10.1534/genetics.110.124347. Epub 2010 Nov 8.

Genetic evidence that polysumoylation bypasses the need for a SUMO-targeted Ub ligase.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854, USA.


Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells lacking the Slx5-Slx8 SUMO-targeted Ub ligase display increased levels of sumoylated and polysumoylated proteins, and they are inviable in the absence of the Sgs1 DNA helicase. One explanation for this inviability is that one or more sumoylated proteins accumulate to toxic levels in sgs1Δ slx5Δ cells. To address this possibility, we isolated a second-site suppressor of sgs1Δ slx5Δ synthetic lethality and identified it as an allele of the ULP2 SUMO isopeptidase. The suppressor, ulp2-D623H, behaved like the ulp2Δ allele in its sensitivity to heat, DNA replication stress, and DNA damage. Surprisingly, deletion of ULP2, which is known to promote the accumulation of poly-SUMO chains, suppressed sgs1Δ slx5Δ synthetic lethality and the slx5Δ sporulation defect. Further, ulp2Δ's growth sensitivities were found to be suppressed in ulp2Δ slx5Δ double mutants. This mutual suppression indicates that SLX5-SLX8 and ULP2 interact antagonistically. However, the suppressed strain sgs1Δ slx5Δ ulp2-D623H displayed even higher levels of sumoylated proteins than the corresponding double mutants. Thus, sgs1Δ slx5Δ synthetic lethality cannot be due simply to high levels of bulk sumoylated proteins. We speculate that the loss of ULP2 suppresses the toxicity of the sumoylated proteins that accumulate in slx5Δ-slx8Δ cells by permitting the extension of poly-SUMO chains on specific target proteins. This additional modification might attenuate the activity of the target proteins or channel them into alternative pathways for proteolytic degradation. In support of this latter possibility we find that the WSS1 isopeptidase is required for suppression by ulp2Δ.

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