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

TitleStructural and biochemical studies of the open state of Lys48-linked diubiquitin
Publication TypeJournal Articles
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsLai M-Y, Zhang D, LaRonde-LeBlanc N, Fushman D
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular Cell Research
Date Published2012///
ISBN Number0167-4889
KeywordsLys48-linked diubiquitin, Lysine-48 linkage selectivity, polyubiquitin, ubiquitin, Ubiquitin-associated domain

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.