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Determination of the Ubiquitin Fitness Landscape Under Seventeen Chemical Conditions in a Classroom Setting


Ubiquitin is essential for eukaryotic life and varies in only 3 amino acid positions between yeast and humans. However, recent deep sequencing studies indicate that ubiquitin is highly tolerant to single mutations. We hypothesized that this tolerance would be reduced by chemically induced physiologic perturbations. To test this hypothesis, a class of first year UCSF graduate students employed deep mutational scanning to determine the fitness landscape of all possible single residue mutations in the presence of seventeen different small molecule perturbations. These perturbations uncover 'shared sensitized positions' localized to areas around the hydrophobic patch and the C-terminus. For the important residue Lys 63, we found sensitization in eight conditions and increased tolerance mutation in two conditions. In total, our experiments have uncovered a highly sensitizing condition for every position in ubiquitin except Ser57 and Gln62. Our data show how chemical stresses can reduce buffering effects in the ubiquitin proteasome system. Finally, this study demonstrates the potential of lab-based interdisciplinary graduate curriculum.

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