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J Biol Chem. 2006 Feb 17;281(7):4334-8. Epub 2005 Dec 28.

Herc5, an interferon-induced HECT E3 enzyme, is required for conjugation of ISG15 in human cells.

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  • 1Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Section of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, The University of Texas at Austin, 78712, USA.


ISG15 is an interferon (IFN)-alpha/beta-induced ubiquitin-like protein that is conjugated to cellular proteins during innate immune responses to viral and bacterial infections. A recent proteomics study identified 158 human proteins targeted for ISG15 conjugation, including the ISG15 E1 and E2 enzymes (Ube1L and UbcH8, respectively) and a HECT E3 enzyme, Herc5. Like the genes encoding Ube1L and UbcH8, expression of Herc5 was also induced by IFN-beta, suggesting that Herc5 might be a component of the ISG15 conjugation system. Consistent with this, small interfering RNAs targeting Herc5 had a dramatic effect on overall ISG15 conjugation in human cells, abrogating conjugation to the vast majority of ISG15 target proteins in vivo. In addition, co-transfection of plasmids expressing ISG15, Ube1L, UbcH8, and Herc5 resulted in robust ISG15 conjugation in non-IFN-treated cells, while the active-site cysteine mutant of Herc5 or a mutant lacking the RCC1 repeat region did not support ISG15 conjugation. These results demonstrate that Herc5 is required for conjugation of ISG15 to a broad spectrum of target proteins in human cells.

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