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J Biol Chem. 2000 Mar 3;275(9):6252-8.

Functional heterogeneity of small ubiquitin-related protein modifiers SUMO-1 versus SUMO-2/3.

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The Picower Institute for Medical Research, Manhasset, New York 11030, USA.


Post-translational modification marked by the covalent attachment of the ubiquitin-like protein SUMO-1/SMT3C has been implicated in a wide variety of cellular processes. Recently, two cDNAs encoding proteins related to SUMO-1 have been identified in human and mouse. The functions and regulation of these proteins, known as SUMO-2/SMT3A and SUMO-3/SMT3B, remain largely uncharacterized. We describe herein quantitative and qualitative distinctions between SUMO-1 and SUMO-2/3 in vertebrate cells. Much of this was accomplished through the application of an antibody that recognizes SUMO-2 and -3, but not SUMO-1. This antibody detected multiple SUMO-2/3-modified proteins and revealed that, together, SUMO-2 and -3 constitute a greater percentage of total cellular protein modification than does SUMO-1. Intriguingly, we found that there was a large pool of free, non-conjugated SUMO-2/3 and that the conjugation of SUMO-2/3 to high molecular mass proteins was induced when the cells were subjected to protein-damaging stimuli such as acute temperature fluctuation. In addition, we demonstrated that SUMO-2/3 conjugated poorly, if at all, to a major SUMO-1 substrate, the Ran GTPase-activating protein RanGAP1. Together, these results support the concept of important distinctions between the SUMO-2/3 and SUMO-1 conjugation pathways and suggest a role for SUMO-2/3 in the cellular responses to environmental stress.

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