Structural and biochemical studies of the open state of Lys48-linked diubiquitin.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Biochim Biophys Acta, Volume 1823, Issue 11, p.2046-56 (2012)


Crystallography, X-Ray, DNA Repair Enzymes, DNA-Binding Proteins, Humans, Lysine, Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, Models, Molecular, Polyubiquitin, Protein Binding, Protein Conformation, Ubiquitin-Activating Enzymes


<p>Ubiquitin (Ub) is a small protein highly conserved among eukaryotes and involved in practically all aspects of eukaryotic cell biology. Polymeric chains assembled from covalently-linked Ub monomers function as molecular signals in the regulation of a host of cellular processes. Our previous studies have shown that the predominant state of Lys48-linked di- and tetra-Ub chains at near-physiological conditions is a closed conformation, in which the Ub-Ub interface is formed by the hydrophobic surface residues of the adjacent Ub units. Because these very residues are involved in (poly)Ub interactions with the majority of Ub-binding proteins, their sequestration at the Ub-Ub interface renders the closed conformation of polyUb binding incompetent. Thus the existence of open conformation(s) and the interdomain motions opening and closing the Ub-Ub interface is critical for the recognition of Lys48-linked polyUb by its receptors. Knowledge of the conformational properties of a polyUb signal is essential for our understanding of its specific recognition by various Ub-receptors. Despite their functional importance, open states of Lys48-linked chains are poorly characterized. Here we report a crystal structure of the open state of Lys48-linked di-Ub. Moreover, using NMR, we examined interactions of the open state of this chain (at pH4.5) with a Lys48-linkage-selective receptor, the UBA2 domain of a shuttle protein hHR23a. Our results show that di-Ub binds UBA2 in the same mode and with comparable affinity as the closed state. Our data suggest a mechanism for polyUb signal recognition, whereby Ub-binding proteins select specific conformations out of the available ensemble of polyUb chain conformations. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Ubiquitin Drug Discovery and Diagnostics.</p>