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Mol Cell. 2005 Jun 10;18(6):687-98.

Structural determinants for selective recognition of a Lys48-linked polyubiquitin chain by a UBA domain.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Center for Biomolecular Structure and Organization, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742, USA.


Although functional diversity in polyubiquitin chain signaling has been ascribed to the ability of differently linked chains to bind in a distinctive manner to effector proteins, structural models of such interactions have been lacking. Here, we use NMR to unveil the structural basis of selective recognition of Lys48-linked di- and tetraubiquitin chains by the UBA2 domain of hHR23A. Although the interaction of UBA2 with Lys48-linked diubiquitin involves the same hydrophobic surface on each ubiquitin unit as that utilized in monoubiquitin:UBA complexes, our results show how the "closed" conformation of Lys48-linked diubiquitin is crucial for high-affinity binding. Moreover, recognition of Lys48-linked diubiquitin involves a unique epitope on UBA, which allows the formation of a sandwich-like diubiqutin:UBA complex. Studies of the UBA-tetraubiquitin interaction suggest that this mode of UBA binding to diubiquitin is relevant for longer chains.

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