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

The BRCA1/BARD1 heterodimer assembles polyubiquitin chains through an unconventional linkage involving lysine residue K6 of ubiquitin.

The BRCA1 tumor suppressor forms a heterodimer with the BARD1 protein, and the resulting complex functions as an E3 ubiquitin ligase that catalyzes the synthesis of polyubiquitin chains. In theory, polyubiquitination can occur by isopeptide bond formation at any of the seven lysine residues of ubiquitin. The isopeptide linkage of a polyubiquitin chain is a particularly important determinant of its cellular function, such that K48-linked chains commonly target proteins for proteasomal degradation, while K63 chains serve non-proteolytic roles in various signaling pathways. To determine the isopeptide linkage formed by BRCA1/BARD1-dependent polyubiquitination, we purified a full-length heterodimeric complex and compared its linkage specificity with that of E6-AP, an E3 ligase known to induce proteolysis of its cellular substrates. Using a comprehensive mutation analysis, we found that E6-AP catalyzes the synthesis of K48-linked polyubiquitin chains. In contrast, however, the BRCA1/BARD1 heterodimer directs polymerization of ubiquitin primarily through an unconventional linkage involving lysine residue K6. Although heterologous substrates of BRCA1/BARD1 are not known, BRCA1 autoubiquitination occurs principally by conjugation with K6-linked polymers. The ability of BRCA1/BARD1 to form K6-linked polyubiquitin chains suggests that it may impart unique cellular properties to its natural enzymatic substrates.[1]


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