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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 May 13;100(10):5646-51. Epub 2003 May 5.

Binding and recognition in the assembly of an active BRCA1/BARD1 ubiquitin-ligase complex.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


BRCA1 is a breast and ovarian cancer tumor suppressor protein that associates with BARD1 to form a RINGRING heterodimer. The BRCA1BARD1 RING complex functions as an ubiquitin (Ub) ligase with activity substantially greater than individual BRCA1 or BARD1 subunits. By using NMR spectroscopy and site-directed mutagenesis, we have mapped the binding site on the BRCA1BARD1 heterodimer for the Ub-conjugating enzyme UbcH5c. The results demonstrate that UbcH5c binds only to the BRCA1 RING domain and not the BARD1 RING. The binding interface is formed by the first and second Zn(2+)-loops and central alpha-helix of the BRCA1 RING domain, a region disrupted by cancer-predisposing mutations. Unexpectedly, a second Ub-conjugating enzyme, UbcH7, also interacts with the BRCA1BARD1 complex with similar affinity, although it is not active in Ub-ligase activity assays. Thus, binding alone is not sufficient for BRCA1-dependent Ub-ligase activity.

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