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PLoS One. 2013 Aug 12;8(8):e72356. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0072356. eCollection 2013.

The C-terminal amino acid of the MHC-I heavy chain is critical for binding to Derlin-1 in human cytomegalovirus US11-induced MHC-I degradation.

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Cell Dynamics Research Center and School of Life Sciences, Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, Gwangju, Korea.


Derlin-1 plays a critical role in endoplasmic reticulum-associated protein degradation (ERAD) of a particular subset of proteins. Although it is generally accepted that Derlin-1 mediates the export of ERAD substrates from the ER to the cytosol, little is known about how Derlin-1 interacts with these substrates. Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) US11 exploits Derlin-1-dependent ERAD to degrade major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) molecules and evade immune surveillance. US11 requires the cytosolic tail of the MHC-I heavy chain to divert MHC-I molecules into the ERAD pathway for degradation; however, the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. Here, we show that the cytosolic tail of the MHC-I heavy chain, although not required for interaction with US11, is required for tight binding to Derlin-1 and thus for US11-induced dislocation of the MHC-I heavy chain to the cytosol for proteasomal degradation. Surprisingly, deletion of a single C-terminal amino acid from the cytosolic tail disrupted the interaction between MHC-I molecules and Derlin-1, rendering mutant MHC-I molecules resistant to US11-induced degradation. Consistently, deleting the C-terminal cytosolic region of Derlin-1 prevented it from binding to MHC-I molecules. Taken together, these results suggest that the cytosolic region of Derlin-1 is involved in ERAD substrate binding and that this interaction is critical for the Derlin-1-mediated dislocation of the MHC-I heavy chain to the cytosol during US11-induced MHC-I degradation.

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