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Mol Cell Biol. 1995 Mar;15(3):1265-73.

A ubiquitin mutant with specific defects in DNA repair and multiubiquitination.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.


The degradation of many proteins involves the sequential ligation of ubiquitin molecules to the substrate to form a multiubiquitin chain linked through Lys-48 of ubiquitin. To test for the existence of alternate forms of multiubiquitin chains, we examined the effects of individually substituting each of six other Lys residues in ubiquitin with Arg. Substitution of Lys-63 resulted in the disappearance of a family of abundant multiubiquitin-protein conjugates. The UbK63R mutants were not generally impaired in ubiquitination, because they grew at a wild-type rate, were fully proficient in the turnover of a variety of short-lived proteins, and exhibited normal levels of many ubiquitin-protein conjugates. The UbK63R mutation also conferred sensitivity to the DNA-damaging agents methyl methanesulfonate and UV as well as a deficiency in DNA damage-induced mutagenesis. Induced mutagenesis is mediated by a repair pathway that requires Rad6 (Ubc2), a ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme. Thus, the UbK63R mutant appears to be deficient in the Rad6 pathway of DNA repair. However, the UbK63R mutation behaves as a partial suppressor of a rad6 deletion mutation, indicating that an effect of UbK63R on repair can be manifest in the absence of the Rad6 gene product. The UbK63R mutation may therefore define a new role of ubiquitin in DNA repair. The results of this study suggest that Lys-63 is used as a linkage site in the formation of novel multiubiquitin chain structures that play an important role in DNA repair.

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