[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ubiquitin and ubiquitin-like proteins (UBLs) are directed to targets by cascades of E1, E2, and E3 enzymes. The largest ubiquitin E3 subclass consists of cullin-RING ligases (CRLs), which contain one each of several cullins (CUL1, -2, -3, -4, or -5) and RING proteins (RBX1 or -2). CRLs are activated by ligation of the UBL NEDD8 to a conserved cullin lysine. How is cullin NEDD8ylation specificity established? Here we report that, like UBE2M (also known as UBC12), the previously uncharacterized E2 UBE2F is a NEDD8-conjugating enzyme in vitro and in vivo. Biochemical and structural analyses indicate how plasticity of hydrophobic E1-E2 interactions and E1 conformational flexibility allow one E1 to charge multiple E2s. The E2s have distinct functions, with UBE2M/RBX1 and UBE2F/RBX2 displaying different target cullin specificities. Together, these studies reveal the molecular basis for and functional importance of hierarchical expansion of the NEDD8 conjugation system in establishing selective CRL activation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cullin-RING ligases (CRLs) comprise the largest ubiquitin E3 subclass, in which a central cullin subunit links a substrate-binding adaptor with an E2-binding RING. Covalent attachment of the ubiquitin-like protein NEDD8 to a conserved C-terminal domain (ctd) lysine stimulates CRL ubiquitination activity and prevents binding of the inhibitor CAND1. Here we report striking conformational rearrangements in the crystal structure of NEDD8~Cul5(ctd)-Rbx1 and SAXS analysis of NEDD8~Cul1(ctd)-Rbx1 relative to their unmodified counterparts. In NEDD8ylated CRL structures, the cullin WHB and Rbx1 RING subdomains are dramatically reoriented, eliminating a CAND1-binding site and imparting multiple potential catalytic geometries to an associated E2. Biochemical analyses indicate that the structural malleability is important for both CRL NEDD8ylation and subsequent ubiquitination activities. Thus, our results point to a conformational control of CRL activity, with ligation of NEDD8 shifting equilibria to disfavor inactive CAND1-bound closed architectures, and favor dynamic, open forms that promote polyubiquitination.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The SUMO ubiquitin-like proteins play regulatory roles in cell division, transcription, DNA repair, and protein subcellular localization. Paralleling other ubiquitin-like proteins, SUMO proteins are proteolytically processed to maturity, conjugated to targets by E1-E2-E3 cascades, and subsequently recognized by specific downstream effectors containing a SUMO-binding motif (SBM). SUMO and its E2 from the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Smt3p and Ubc9p, are encoded by essential genes. Here we describe the 1.9 A resolution crystal structure of a non-covalent Smt3p-Ubc9p complex. Unexpectedly, a heterologous portion of the crystallized complex derived from the expression construct mimics an SBM, and binds Smt3p in a manner resembling SBM binding to human SUMO family members. In the complex, Smt3p binds a surface distal from Ubc9's catalytic cysteine. The structure implies that a single molecule of Smt3p cannot bind concurrently to both the non-covalent binding site and the catalytic cysteine of a single Ubc9p molecule. However, formation of higher-order complexes can occur, where a single Smt3p covalently linked to one Ubc9p's catalytic cysteine also binds non-covalently to another molecule of Ubc9p. Comparison with other structures from the SUMO pathway suggests that formation of the non-covalent Smt3p-Ubc9p complex occurs mutually exclusively with many other Smt3p and Ubc9p interactions in the conjugation cascade. By contrast, high-resolution insights into how Smt3p-Ubc9p can also interact with downstream recognition machineries come from contacts with the SBM mimic. Interestingly, the overall architecture of the Smt3p-Ubc9p complex is strikingly similar to recent structures from the ubiquitin pathway. The results imply that non-covalent ubiquitin-like protein-E2 complexes are conserved platforms, which function as parts of larger assemblies involved in many protein post-translational regulatory pathways.