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J Biol Chem. 2012 Dec 14;287(51):43007-18. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.386938. Epub 2012 Oct 26.

Direct and indirect control of mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway-associated components, BRAP/IMP E3 ubiquitin ligase and CRAF/RAF1 kinase, by the deubiquitylating enzyme USP15.

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  • 1Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Institute of Translational Medicine, University of Liverpool, Crown Street, Liverpool L69 3BX, United Kingdom.


The opposing regulators of ubiquitylation status, E3 ligases and deubiquitylases, are often found to be associated in complexes. Here we report on a novel interaction between the E3 ligase BRAP (also referred to as IMP), a negative regulator of the MAPK scaffold protein KSR, and two closely related deubiquitylases, USP15 and USP4. We map the interaction to the N-terminal DUSP-UBL domain of USP15 and the coiled coil region of BRAP. USP15 as well as USP4 oppose the autoubiquitylation of BRAP, whereas BRAP promotes the ubiquitylation of USP15. Importantly, USP15 but not USP4 depletion destabilizes BRAP by promoting its proteasomal degradation, and BRAP-protein levels can be rescued by reintroducing catalytically active but not inactive mutant USP15. Unexpectedly, USP15 depletion results in a decrease in amplitude of MAPK signaling in response to EGF and PDGF. We provide evidence for a model in which the dominant effect of prolonged USP15 depletion upon signal amplitude is due to a decrease in CRAF levels while allowing for the possibility that USP15 may also function to dampen MAPK signaling through direct stabilization of a negative regulator, the E3 ligase BRAP.

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