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The Ubiquitin Interacting Motif-Like Domain of Met4 Selectively Binds K48 Polyubiquitin Chains.

  • Author(s): Villamil, Mark;
  • Xiao, Weidi;
  • Yu, Clinton;
  • Huang, Lan;
  • Xu, Ping;
  • Kaiser, Peter
  • et al.

Protein ubiquitylation is an important posttranslational modification that governs most cellular processes. Signaling functions of ubiquitylation are very diverse and involve proteolytic as well as nonproteolytic events, such as localization, regulation of protein interactions, and control of protein activity. The intricacy of ubiquitin signaling is further complicated by several different polyubiquitin chain types that are likely recognized and interpreted by different protein readers. For example, K48-linked ubiquitin chains represent the most abundant chain topology and are the canonical degradation signals, but have been implicated in degradation-independent functions as well, likely requiring a variety of protein readers. Ubiquitin binding domains that interact with polyubiquitin chains are likely at the center of ubiquitin signal recognition and transmission, but their structure and selectivity are largely unexplored. Here we report identification and characterization of the ubiquitin interacting motif-like (UIML) domain of the yeast transcription factor Met4 as a strictly K48-polyubiquitin specific binding unit using methods such as biolayer interferometry (BLI), pull-down assays, and mass spectrometry. We further used the selective binding property to develop an affinity probe for purification of proteins modified with K48-linked polyubiquitin chains. The affinity probe has a Kd = 100 nM for K48 tetra-ubiquitin and shows no detectable interaction with either monoubiquitin or any other polyubiquitin chain configuration. Our results define a short strictly K48-linkage-dependent binding motif and present a new affinity reagent for the K48-polyubiquitin-modified proteome. Our findings benefit the ubiquitin field in analyses of the role of K48-linked polyubiquitylation and increase our understanding of chain topology selective ubiquitin chain recognition.

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