An Atypical E3 Ligase Module in UBR4 Mediates Destabilization of N-degron Substrates

Lu Barnsby-Greer, Peter Mabbitt, Marc-Andre Dery, Daniel Squair, Nicola Wood, Sven Lange, Satpal Virdee

Research output: Working paper/PreprintPreprint

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UBR4 is an E3 ligase (E3) of the N-degron pathway and is involved in neurodevelopment, age-associated muscular atrophy and cancer progression. The location and mechanistic classification of the E3 module within the 600 kDa protein UBR4 remains unknown. Herein, we identify and characterize, at a biochemical and structural level, a distinct E3 module within human UBR4 consisting of a novel “hemiRING” zinc finger, a helical-rich UBR Zinc-finger Interacting (UZI) subdomain, and a predicted backside interacting N-terminal helix. A structure of an E2 conjugating enzyme (E2)-E3 complex provides atomic level insight into the exquisite specificity of the hemiRING towards the E2s UBE2A/B. The UZI subdomain can be considered a component of the E3 module as it has a modest activating effect on the ubiquitin loaded E2 (E2∼Ub), which is complemented by the intrinsically high lysine reactivity of UBE2A. These findings reveal the mechanistic underpinnings of a neuronal N-degron E3 ligase, its specific recruitment of UBE2A, and highlight the underappreciated architectural diversity of cross-brace domains associated with ubiquitin E3 activity.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2023


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