An atypical ubiquitin ligase at the heart of neural development and programmed axon degeneration

Satpal Virdee (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
48 Downloads (Pure)


The degeneration of nerve fibres following injury was first described by Augustus Waller over 170 years ago. Initially assumed to be a passive process, it is now evident that axons respond to insult via regulated cellular signaling events resulting in their programmed degeneration. Pro-survival and pro-degenerative factors have been identified and their regulatory mechanisms are beginning to emerge. The ubiquitin system has been implicated in the pro-degenerative process and a key component is the ubiquitin E3 ligase MYCBP2 (also known as PHR1). Ubiquitin E3 ligases are tasked with the transfer of the small protein modifier ubiquitin to substrates and consist of hundreds of members. They can be classified as single subunit systems or as multi-subunit complexes. Their catalytic domains can also be assigned to three general architectures. Hints that MYCBP2 might not conform to these established formats came to light and it is now clear from biochemical and structural studies that MYCBP2 is indeed an outlier in terms of its modus operandi. Furthermore, the unconventional way in which MYCBP2 transfers ubiquitin to substrates has been linked to neurodevelopmental and pro-degenerative function. Herein, we will summarize these research developments relating to the unusual features of MYCBP2 and postulate therapeutic strategies that prevent Wallerian degeneration. These have exciting potential for providing relief from pathological neuropathies and neurodegenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2347-2350
Number of pages4
JournalNeural Regeneration Research
Issue number11
Early online date1 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • chemical biology
  • E3 ligase
  • MYCBP2
  • neurodegeneration
  • progammed axon death
  • structural biology
  • ubiqultin
  • wallerian degeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience


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