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FEBS J. 2009 Mar;276(5):1208-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-4658.2008.06858.x.

Evolutionary divergence of valosin-containing protein/cell division cycle protein 48 binding interactions among endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation proteins.

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Laboratory of Molecular Signalling, The Babraham Institute, Cambridge, UK.


Endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-associated degradation (ERAD) is a cell-autonomous process that eliminates large quantities of misfolded, newly synthesized protein, and is thus essential for the survival of any basic eukaryotic cell. Accordingly, the proteins involved and their interaction partners are well conserved from yeast to mammals, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae is widely used as a model system with which to investigate this fundamental cellular process. For example, valosin-containing protein (VCP) and its yeast homologue cell division cycle protein 48 (Cdc48p), which help to direct polyubiquitinated proteins for proteasome-mediated degradation, interact with an equivalent group of ubiquitin ligases in mouse and in S. cerevisiae. A conserved structural motif for cofactor binding would therefore be expected. We report a VCP-binding motif (VBM) shared by mammalian ubiquitin ligase E4b (Ube4b)-ubiquitin fusion degradation protein 2a (Ufd2a), hydroxymethylglutaryl reductase degradation protein 1 (Hrd1)-synoviolin and ataxin 3, and a related sequence in M(r) 78,000 glycoprotein-Amfr with slightly different binding properties, and show that Ube4b and Hrd1 compete for binding to the N-terminal domain of VCP. Each of these proteins is involved in ERAD, but none has an S. cerevisiae homologue containing the VBM. Some other invertebrate model organisms also lack the VBM in one or more of these proteins, in contrast to vertebrates, where the VBM is widely conserved. Thus, consistent with their importance in ERAD, evolution has developed at least two ways to bring these proteins together with VCP-Cdc48p. However, the differing molecular architecture of VCP-Cdc48p complexes indicates a key point of divergence in the molecular details of ERAD mechanisms.

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