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EMBO J. 2006 Apr 19;25(8):1710-9. Epub 2006 Apr 6.

Molecular determinants of polyubiquitin linkage selection by an HECT ubiquitin ligase.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Ubiquitin (Ub)-protein ligases (E3s) frequently modify their substrates with multiple Ub molecules in the form of a polyubiquitin (poly-Ub) chain. Although structurally distinct poly-Ub chains (linked through different Ub lysine (Lys) residues) can confer different fates on target proteins, little is known about how E3s select the Lys residue to be used in chain synthesis. Here, we used a combination of mutagenesis, biochemistry, and mass spectrometry to map determinants of linkage choice in chain assembly catalyzed by KIAA10, an HECT (Homologous to E6AP C-Terminus) domain E3 that synthesizes K29- and K48-linked chains. Focusing on the Ub molecule that contributes the Lys residue for chain formation, we found that specific surface residues adjacent to K48 and K29 are critical for the usage of the respective Lys residues in chain synthesis. This direct mechanism of linkage choice bears similarities to the mechanism of substrate site selection in sumoylation catalyzed by Ubc9, but is distinct from the mechanism of chain linkage selection used by the Mms2/Ubc13 (Ub E2 variant (UEV)/E2) complex.

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