National Center for
J. Biol. Chem. (2012) 287 p.17374-17385
RING E3 ligases are proteins that must selectively recruit an E2-conjugating enzyme and facilitate ubiquitin transfer to a substrate. It is not clear how a RING E3 ligase differentiates a naked E2 enzyme from the E2 approximately ubiquitin-conjugated form or how this is altered upon ubiquitin transfer. RING-box protein 1 (Rbx1/ROC1) is a key protein found in the Skp1/Cullin-1/F-box (SCF) E3 ubiquitin ligase complex that functions with the E2 ubiquitin conjugating enzyme CDC34. The solution structure of Rbx1/ROC1 revealed a globular RING domain (residues 40-108) stabilized by three structural zinc ions (root mean square deviation 0.30 +/- 0.04 A) along with a disordered N terminus (residues 12-39). Titration data showed that Rbx1/ROC1 preferentially recruits CDC34 in its ubiquitin-conjugated form and favors this interaction by 50-fold compared with unconjugated CDC34. Furthermore, NMR and biochemical assays identified residues in helix alpha2 of Rbx1/ROC1 that are essential for binding and activating CDC34 approximately ubiquitin for ubiquitylation. Taken together, this work provides the first direct structural and biochemical evidence showing that polyubiquitylation by the RING E3 ligase Rbx1/ROC1 requires the preferential recruitment of an E2 approximately ubiquitin complex and subsequent release of the unconjugated E2 protein upon ubiquitin transfer to a substrate or ubiquitin chain.