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J Biol Chem. 2011 Jun 3;286(22):19804-15. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.220079. Epub 2011 Mar 4.

A Competitive binding mechanism between Skp1 and exportin 1 (CRM1) controls the localization of a subset of F-box proteins.

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Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.


SCF-type E3 ubiquitin ligases are crucial regulators of cell cycle progression. As the F-box protein is the substrate-specifying subunit of this family of ligases, their availability dictates the timing and the location of the ubiquitination of substrates. We report here our investigation into the regulation of the localization of F-box proteins, in particular Fbxo7, whose mislocalization is associated with human disease. We identified a motif in Fbxo7 that we have characterized as a functional leucine-rich nuclear export sequence (NES), and which allowed binding to the nuclear export protein, exportin 1 (CRM1). Unusually, the NES was embedded within the F-box domain, which is bound by Skp1 and enables the F-box protein to form part of an E3 ubiquitin ligase. The NES of Fbxo7 controlled its localization and was conserved in Fbxo7 homologues in other species. Skp1 binding prevented Fbxo7 from contacting CRM1. We propose that this competitive binding allowed Fbxo7 to accumulate within the nucleus starting at the G1/S transition. More than ten other F-box proteins also contain an NES at the same location in their F-box domains, indicating that this competitive binding mechanism may contribute to the regulation of a sixth of the known F-box proteins.

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