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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Identification of rabbit reticulocyte E217K as a UBC7 homologue and functional characterization of its core domain loop.

The structural basis by which ubiquitin (Ub)-conjugating enzymes (E2s) determine substrate specificity remains unclear. We cloned rabbit reticulocyte E217K because unlike the similarly sized class I E2s, E214K and UBC4, it is unable to support ubiquitin-protein ligase (E3)-dependent conjugation to endogenous proteins. RNA analysis revealed that this E2 was expressed in all tissues tested, with higher levels in the testis. Analysis of testis RNA from rats of different ages showed that E217K mRNA was induced from days 15 to 30. The predicted amino acid sequence indicates that E217K is a 19. 5-kDa class I E2 but differs from other class I enzymes in possessing an insertion of 13 amino acids distal to the active site cysteine. E217K shows 74% amino acid identity with Saccharomyces cerevisiae UBC7, and therefore, we rename it mammalian UBC7. Yeast UBC7 crystal structure indicates that this insertion forms a loop out of the otherwise conserved folding structure. Sequence analysis of E2s had previously suggested that this loop is a hypervariable region and may play a role in substrate specificity. We created mutant UBC7 lacking the loop (ubc7Deltaloop) and a mutant E214k with an inserted loop (E214k+loop) and characterized their biochemical functions. Ubc7Deltaloop had higher affinity for the E1-Ub thiol ester than native UBC7 and permitted conjugation of Ub to selected proteins in the testis but did not permit the broad spectrum E3-dependent conjugation to endogenous reticulocyte proteins. Surprisingly, E214k+loop was unable to accept Ub from ubiquitin-activating enzyme (E1) but was able to accept NEDD8 from E1. E214k+loop was able to support conjugation of NEDD8 to endogenous reticulocyte proteins but with much lower efficiency than E214k. Thus, the loop can influence interactions of the E2 with charged E1 as well as with E3s or substrates, but the exact nature of these interactions depends on divergent sequences in the remaining conserved core domain.[1]


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