The ubiquitin-proteasome pathway is essential throughout the life cycle of a cell. This system employs an astounding number of proteins to ubiquitylate and to deliver protein substrates to the proteasome for their degradation. At the heart of this process is the large and growing family of ubiquitin receptor proteins. Within this family is an intensely studied group that contains both ubiquitin-like (UBL) and ubiquitin-associated (UBA) domains: Rad23, Ddi1 and Dsk2. Although UBL/UBA family members are reported to regulate the degradation of other proteins, their individual roles in ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation has proven difficult to resolve due to their overlapping functional roles and interaction with each other and other ubiquitin family members. Here, we use a combination of NMR spectroscopy and molecular biology to reveal that Rad23 and Ddi1 interact with each other by using UBL/UBA domain interactions in a manner that does not preclude their interaction with ubiquitin. We demonstrate that UBL/UBA proteins can bind a common tetraubiquitin molecule and thereby provide strong evidence for a model in which chains adopt an opened structure to bind multiple receptor proteins. Altogether our results suggest a mechanism through which UBL/UBA proteins could protect chains from premature de-ubiquitylation and unnecessary elongation during their transit to the proteasome.
- Proteasome-mediated protein degradation
- Ubiquitin receptor proteins
- Ubiquitin-associated domains