Atomic Tailoring of Ubiquitin Side Chains Influences E2-Mediated Ubiquitin Chain Formation

28 March 2023, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Ubiquitin (Ub) is a small, highly conserved protein essential for eukaryotic biology, and is unique in its formation of polyubiquitin chains by conjugation to one of its seven lysine side chains. Here we report that atomic tailoring of Ub side chains – i.e. the insertion, deletion, or replacement of specific atoms – has significant and unexpected consequences on the enzymatic conjugation of Ub oligomers by isopeptide bond formation mediated by E2 conjugating enzymes. These studies employed chemical synthesis and ligation methods to prepare numerous specifically tailored Ub monomers on multi-milligram scales. While some modifications including N-terminal acylation and methionine replacement did not affect protein folding or Ub chain formation with Ube2K, other modifications had a pronounced effect of oligomerization with Ubc13/Mms2. We observed that Ala46Hse mutation obliterates the ability of this Ub monomer to accept another Ub at Lys63 in Ubc13-mediated conjugations. Exhaustive replacement of all seven lysines with shorter surrogates Orn, Dab, or Dap essentially blocks Ub chain formation, and in the case of Dap, precludes proper folding of the Ub protein.


E2 conjugating enzymes
lysine homologues
ubiquitin chains

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information
Procedures for Ubiquitin chain synthesis, conjugation assays, gels.


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