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J Biol Chem. 2007 Jun 8;282(23):17032-40. Epub 2007 Apr 17.

Substrate-mediated regulation of cullin neddylation.

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Wolfson Digestive Diseases Centre, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2UH, United Kingdom.


Cullin-based E3 ligases are a large family of multi-subunit ubiquitin ligases with diverse cellular functions, including the regulation of the cell cycle, of the DNA damage response, and of various transcription factors. These ligases are composed of one of six mammalian cullin homologs (Cul1, Cul2, Cul3, Cul4a, Cul4b, and Cul5), the Ring finger containing protein Roc1/Rbx1, and cullin homolog-specific adaptor and substrate recognition subunits. To be active, cullin-based ligases require the covalent modification of a conserved lysine residue in the cullin protein with the ubiquitin-like protein Nedd8. We show in this study that in intact cells Cul1 neddylation is dependent on binding to adaptor proteins and substrate recognition subunits. Mutant Cul1 that is unable to recruit adaptor and substrate recognition subunits exhibits markedly reduced neddylation, and inhibiting binding of adaptor and substrate recognition subunits to wild type Cul1 reduces Nedd8 modification. This regulatory mechanism also extends to other cullin-based E3 ligases, including Cul2, Cul3, and Cul4a. The regulation of cullin neddylation by adaptor proteins and substrate recognition subunits in cells was found to be independent of both CAND1 and the COP9 signalosome, two negative regulators of cullin Nedd8 modification. Using hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1alpha), a substrate of the Elongin B/C-Cul2-VHL ligase, we demonstrate the critical role of substrate binding to promote Cul2 neddylation in a manner that does not require substrate ubiquitination but may involve a conformational change. These findings suggest a mechanism through which availability of substrate recognition subunits and substrates can regulate the ubiquitin ligase activity.

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