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Nature. 2003 Sep 18;425(6955):316-21. Epub 2003 Sep 3.

BTB proteins are substrate-specific adaptors in an SCF-like modular ubiquitin ligase containing CUL-3.

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  • 1Verna and Marrs McLean Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Programmed destruction of regulatory proteins through the ubiquitin-proteasome system is a widely used mechanism for controlling signalling pathways. Cullins are proteins that function as scaffolds for modular ubiquitin ligases typified by the SCF (Skp1-Cul1-F-box) complex. The substrate selectivity of these E3 ligases is dictated by a specificity module that binds cullins. In the SCF complex, this module is composed of Skp1, which binds directly to Cul1, and a member of the F-box family of proteins. F-box proteins bind Skp1 through the F-box motif, and substrates by means of carboxy-terminal protein interaction domains. Similarly, Cul2 and Cul5 interact with BC-box-containing specificity factors through the Skp1-like protein elongin C. Cul3 is required for embryonic development in mammals and Caenorhabditis elegans but its specificity module is unknown. Here we report the identification of a large family of BTB-domain proteins as substrate-specific adaptors for C. elegans CUL-3. Biochemical studies using the BTB protein MEL-26 and its genetic target MEI-1 (refs 12, 13) indicate that BTB proteins merge the functional properties of Skp1 and F-box proteins into a single polypeptide.

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