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

Molecular cloning, expression and characterization of a ubiquitin conjugation enzyme (E2(17)kB) highly expressed in rat testis.

Ubiquitin-conjugating enzymes (E2s) play a key role in ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis by catalysing the conjugation of ubiquitin to protein substrates. We have previously reported the cDNA cloning of a 14 kDa conjugating enzyme [E2(14)k; Wing, Dumas and Banville (1992) J. Biol. Chem. 267, 6495-6501] that efficiently supported ubiquitination and protein degradation in reticulocyte extracts. Surprisingly, the structure of this E2 was markedly more similar to the Saccharomyces cerevisiae DNA repair gene RAD6, than to the S. cerevisiae UBC4/UBC5 genes which are required for the degradation of short-lived proteins and support much of the ubiquitination of yeast proteins. This suggested that mammalian homologues of UBC4/UBC5 remained to be identified. Using oligonucleotides derived from the S. cerevisiae UBC4 sequence as primers in a PCR reaction with rat muscle cDNA as a template, a 390 bp DNA fragment was amplified which predicted an amino acid sequence that was 83% identical to yeast UBC4. Screening a rat testes cDNA library identified a family of cDNAs which predicted two very similar proteins with basic pIs and molecular masses of approx. 16,700 Da. Isoform 2E was expressed in Escherichia coli and purified to homogeneity. It supported ubiquitination to reticulocyte and testis proteins more rapidly in vitro and produced larger conjugates than E2(14)k. Examination of RNA from different tissues indicated that this type of E2 was expressed in a broad spectrum of tissues but at particularly high levels in the testis. Fractionation of a testis extract by anion-exchange chromatography identified several putative ubiquitin protein ligase activities with which this E2 could interact in promoting conjugation of ubiquitin to proteins. One of these activities supported conjugation of ubiquitin to histone H2A, a substrate degraded in the ubiquitin system by a non-N-end rule mechanism. This paper reports the first cloning of a apparent mammalian homologue of S. cerevisiae UBC4/UBC5. Its high expression in testis and ability to efficiently support conjugation to testis proteins suggest that this family of E2s may play a role in the proteolysis that occurs during spermatogenesis.[1]


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