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Structural Insights Into the Initiation and Elongation of Ubiquitination by Ubr1

By Man Pan, Qingyun Zheng, Tian Wang, Lujun Liang, Junxiong Mao, Chong Zuo, Ruichao Ding, Huasong Ai, Yuan Xie, Dong Si, Yuanyuan Yu, Lei Liu, Minglei Zhao

Posted 12 Apr 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.04.12.439291

The N-end rule pathway was one of the first ubiquitin (Ub)-dependent degradation pathways to be identified. Ubr1, a single-chain E3 ligase, targets proteins bearing a destabilizing residue at the N-terminus (N-degron) for rapid K48-linked ubiquitination and proteasome-dependent degradation. How Ubr1 catalyses the initiation of ubiquitination on the substrate and elongation of the Ub chain in a linkage-specific manner through a single E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme (Ubc2) remains unknown. Here, we report the cryo-electron microscopy structures of two complexes representing the initiation and elongation intermediates of Ubr1 captured using chemical approaches. In these two structures, Ubr1 adopts different conformations to facilitate the transfer of Ub from Ubc2 to either an N-degron peptide or a monoubiquitinated degron. These structures not only reveal the architecture of the Ubr1 complex but also provide mechanistic insights into the initiation and elongation steps of ubiquitination catalyzed by Ubr1.

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