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J Biol Chem. 1997 May 23;272(21):13548-54.

Physical interaction between specific E2 and Hect E3 enzymes determines functional cooperativity.

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Department of Pathology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


The cellular protein E6AP functions as an E3 ubiquitin protein ligase in the E6-dependent ubiquitination of p53. E6AP is a member of a family of functionally related E3 proteins that share a conserved carboxyl-terminal region called the Hect domain. Although several different E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzymes have been shown to function with E6AP in the E6-dependent ubiquitination of p53 in vitro, the E2s that cooperate with E6AP in the ubiquitination of its normal substrates are presently unknown. Moreover, the basis of functional cooperativity between specific E2 and Hect E3 proteins has not yet been determined. Here we report the cloning of a new human E2, designated UbcH8, that was identified in a two-hybrid screen through specific interaction with E6AP. We demonstrate that UbcH7, an E2 closely related to UbcH8, can also bind to E6AP. The region of E6AP involved in complex formation with UbcH8 and UbcH7 was mapped to its Hect domain. Furthermore, we show that UbcH5 and UbcH6, two highly homologous E2s that were deficient for interaction with E6AP, could associate efficiently with another Hect-E3 protein, RSP5. Finally, only the E6AP-interacting E2s could function in conjunction with E6AP in the ubiquitination of an E6 independent substrate of E6AP, whereas the noninteracting E2s could not. Taken together, these studies demonstrate for the first time complex formation between specific human E2s and the Hect domain family of E3 proteins and suggest that selective physical interaction between E2 and E3 enzymes forms the basis of specificity for functionally distinct E2:E3 combinations.

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