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

A major ubiquitin conjugation system in wheat germ extracts involves a 15-kDa ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme (E2) homologous to the yeast UBC4/UBC5 gene products.

In eukaryotes, conjugation of ubiquitin to proteins serves as a committed step for intracellular protein degradation. Formation of ubiquitin-protein conjugates involves the transfer of ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme (E2)- bound ubiquitin to the target proteins with or without the assistance of ubiquitin-protein ligase (E3). We report the isolation and characterization of an E2 purified from wheat germ that accounts for the majority of ubiquitin conjugation activity observed in vitro. This E2 is basic, has an apparent molecular mass of 15 kDa, and forms oligomers that dissociate upon treatment with sulfhydryl reducing agents. E(2)15kDa will not work alone in vitro but requires an additional factor putatively identified as an E3 for substrate recognition. This E3 is distinct from E3 alpha previously described to be required for N-terminal recognition of target proteins. Partial amino acid sequence analysis of E(2)15kDa revealed a substantial identity (approximately 80% in two peptide regions) with yeast E2s encoded by UBC4/UBC5 genes. This homology was confirmed by immunodetection of a 16-kDa yeast protein corresponding to the molecular mass of the UBC4/UBC5 proteins with E(2)15kDa antisera. The products of yeast UBC4 and UBC5 genes along with that of UBC1 gene constitute a subfamily of functionally overlapping E2s that mediate the selective degradation of short-lived and abnormal proteins in vivo. Considering the high degree of functional and structural similarity of wheat E(2)15kDa with that of yeast UBC4/UBC5, it is likely that yeast UBC4/UBC5 and their homologs from other eukaryotes exhibit the same E3 dependence in performing their roles in protein degradation.[1]


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