Tying up loose ends: the N-degron and C-degron pathways of protein degradation.
ABSTRACT: Selective protein degradation by the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) is thought to be governed primarily by the recognition of specific motifs - degrons - present in substrate proteins. The ends of proteins - the N- and C-termini - have unique properties, and an important subset of protein-protein interactions involve the recognition of free termini. The first degrons to be discovered were located at the extreme N-terminus of proteins, a finding which initiated the study of the N-degron (formerly N-end rule) pathways, but only in the last few years has it emerged that a diverse set of C-degron pathways target analogous degron motifs located at the extreme C-terminus of proteins. In this minireview we summarise the N-degron and C-degron pathways currently known to operate in human cells, focussing primarily on those that have been discovered in recent years. In each case we describe the cellular machinery responsible for terminal degron recognition, and then consider some of the functional roles of terminal degron pathways. Altogether, a broad spectrum of E3 ubiquitin ligases mediate the recognition of a diverse array of terminal degron motifs; these degradative pathways have the potential to influence a wide variety of cellular functions.
Project description:This perspective is partly review and partly proposal. N-degrons and C-degrons are degradation signals whose main determinants are, respectively, the N-terminal and C-terminal residues of cellular proteins. N-degrons and C-degrons include, to varying extents, adjoining sequence motifs, and also internal lysine residues that function as polyubiquitylation sites. Discovered in 1986, N-degrons were the first degradation signals in short-lived proteins. A particularly large set of C-degrons was discovered in 2018. We describe multifunctional proteolytic systems that target N-degrons and C-degrons. We also propose to denote these systems as "N-degron pathways" and "C-degron pathways." The former notation replaces the earlier name "N-end rule pathways." The term "N-end rule" was introduced 33 years ago, when only some N-terminal residues were thought to be destabilizing. However, studies over the last three decades have shown that all 20 amino acids of the genetic code can act, in cognate sequence contexts, as destabilizing N-terminal residues. Advantages of the proposed terms include their brevity and semantic uniformity for N-degrons and C-degrons. In addition to being topologically analogous, N-degrons and C-degrons are related functionally. A proteolytic cleavage of a subunit in a multisubunit complex can create, at the same time, an N-degron (in a C-terminal fragment) and a spatially adjacent C-degron (in an N-terminal fragment). Consequently, both fragments of a subunit can be selectively destroyed through attacks by the N-degron and C-degron pathways.
Project description:The N-terminal residue influences protein stability through N-degron pathways. We used stability profiling of the human N-terminome to uncover multiple additional features of N-degron pathways. In addition to uncovering extended specificities of UBR E3 ligases, we characterized two related Cullin-RING E3 ligase complexes, Cul2ZYG11B and Cul2ZER1, that act redundantly to target N-terminal glycine. N-terminal glycine degrons are depleted at native N-termini but strongly enriched at caspase cleavage sites, suggesting roles for the substrate adaptors ZYG11B and ZER1 in protein degradation during apoptosis. Furthermore, ZYG11B and ZER1 were found to participate in the quality control of N-myristoylated proteins, in which N-terminal glycine degrons are conditionally exposed after a failure of N-myristoylation. Thus, an additional N-degron pathway specific for glycine regulates the stability of metazoan proteomes.
Project description:Eukaryotic N-degron pathways are proteolytic systems whose unifying feature is their ability to recognize proteins containing N-terminal (Nt) degradation signals called N-degrons, and to target these proteins for degradation by the 26S proteasome or autophagy. GID4, a subunit of the GID ubiquitin ligase, is the main recognition component of the proline (Pro)/N-degron pathway. GID4 targets proteins through their Nt-Pro residue or a Pro at position 2, in the presence of specific downstream sequence motifs. Here we show that human GID4 can also recognize hydrophobic Nt-residues other than Pro. One example is the sequence Nt-IGLW, bearing Nt-Ile. Nt-IGLW binds to wild-type human GID4 with a <i>K</i> <sub>d</sub> of 16 ?M, whereas the otherwise identical Nt-Pro-bearing sequence PGLW binds to GID4 more tightly, with a <i>K</i> <sub>d</sub> of 1.9 ?M. Despite this difference in affinities of GID4 for Nt-IGLW vs. Nt-PGLW, we found that the GID4-mediated Pro/N-degron pathway of the yeast <i>Saccharomyces cerevisiae</i> can target an Nt-IGLW-bearing protein for rapid degradation. We solved crystal structures of human GID4 bound to a peptide bearing Nt-Ile or Nt-Val. We also altered specific residues of human GID4 and measured the affinities of resulting mutant GID4s for Nt-IGLW and Nt-PGLW, thereby determining relative contributions of specific GID4 residues to the GID4-mediated recognition of Nt-Pro vs. Nt-residues other than Pro. These and related results advance the understanding of targeting by the Pro/N-degron pathway and greatly expand the substrate recognition range of the GID ubiquitin ligase in both human and yeast cells.
Project description:Aberrant proteins can be deleterious to cells and are cleared by the ubiquitin-proteasome system. A group of C-end degrons that are recognized by specific cullin-RING ubiquitin E3 ligases (CRLs) has recently been identified in some of these abnormal polypeptides. Here, we report three crystal structures of a CRL2 substrate receptor, KLHDC2, in complex with the diglycine-ending C-end degrons of two early-terminated selenoproteins and the N-terminal proteolytic fragment of USP1. The E3 recognizes the degron peptides in a similarly coiled conformation and cradles their C-terminal diglycine with a deep surface pocket. By hydrogen bonding with multiple backbone carbonyls of the peptides, KLHDC2 further locks in the otherwise degenerate degrons with a compact interface and unexpected high affinities. Our results reveal the structural mechanism by which KLHDC2 recognizes the simplest C-end degron and suggest a functional necessity of the E3 to tightly maintain the low abundance of its select substrates.
Project description:Degrons are minimal elements that mediate the interaction of proteins with degradation machineries to promote proteolysis. Despite their central role in proteostasis, the number of known degrons remains small, and a facile technology to characterize them is lacking. Using a strategy combining global protein stability (GPS) profiling with a synthetic human peptidome, we identify thousands of peptides containing degron activity. Employing CRISPR screening, we establish that the stability of many proteins is regulated through degrons located at their C terminus. We characterize eight Cullin-RING E3 ubiquitin ligase (CRL) complex adaptors that regulate C-terminal degrons, including six CRL2 and two CRL4 complexes, and computationally implicate multiple non-CRLs in end recognition. Proteome analysis revealed that the C termini of eukaryotic proteins are depleted for C-terminal degrons, suggesting an E3-ligase-dependent modulation of proteome composition. Thus, we propose that a series of "C-end rules" operate to govern protein stability and shape the eukaryotic proteome.
Project description:The proteolysis-assisted protein quality control system guards the proteome from potentially detrimental aberrant proteins. How miscellaneous defective proteins are specifically eliminated and which molecular characteristics direct them for removal are fundamental questions. We reveal a mechanism, DesCEND (destruction via C-end degrons), by which CRL2 ubiquitin ligase uses interchangeable substrate receptors to recognize the unusual C termini of abnormal proteins (i.e., C-end degrons). C-end degrons are mostly less than ten residues in length and comprise a few indispensable residues along with some rather degenerate ones. The C-terminal end position is essential for C-end degron function. Truncated selenoproteins generated by translation errors and the USP1 N-terminal fragment from post-translational cleavage are eliminated by DesCEND. DesCEND also targets full-length proteins with naturally occurring C-end degrons. The C-end degron in DesCEND echoes the N-end degron in the N-end rule pathway, highlighting the dominance of protein "ends" as indicators for protein elimination.
Project description:In bacteria, nascent proteins bear the pretranslationally generated N-terminal (Nt) formyl-methionine (fMet) residue. Nt-fMet of bacterial proteins is a degradation signal, termed fMet/N-degron. By contrast, proteins synthesized by cytosolic ribosomes of eukaryotes were presumed to bear unformylated Nt-Met. Here we found that the yeast formyltransferase Fmt1, although imported into mitochondria, could also produce Nt-formylated proteins in the cytosol. Nt-formylated proteins were strongly up-regulated in stationary phase or upon starvation for specific amino acids. This up-regulation strictly required the Gcn2 kinase, which phosphorylates Fmt1 and mediates its retention in the cytosol. We also found that the Nt-fMet residues of Nt-formylated proteins act as fMet/N-degrons and identified the Psh1 ubiquitin ligase as the recognition component of the eukaryotic fMet/N-end rule pathway, which destroys Nt-formylated proteins.
Project description:Fusion of inducible degradation signals, so-called degrons, to cellular proteins is an elegant method of controlling protein levels in vivo. Recently, a degron system relying on the plant hormone auxin has been described for use in yeast and vertebrate cells. We now report the construction of a series of vectors that significantly enhance the versatility of this auxin-inducible degron (AID) system in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We have minimized the size of the degron and appended a series of additional epitope tags, allowing detection by commercial antibodies or fluorescence microscopy. The vectors are compatible with PCR-based genomic tagging strategies, allow for C- or N-terminal fusion of the degron, and provide a range of selection markers. Application to a series of yeast proteins, including essential replication factors, provides evidence for a general usefulness of the system.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Tools for in vivo manipulation of protein abundance or activity are highly beneficial for life science research. Protein stability can be efficiently controlled by conditional degrons, which induce target protein degradation at restrictive conditions. RESULTS: We used the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae for development of a conditional, bidirectional degron to control protein stability, which can be fused to the target protein N-terminally, C-terminally or placed internally. Activation of the degron is achieved by cleavage with the tobacco etch virus (TEV) protease, resulting in quick proteolysis of the target protein. We found similar degradation rates of soluble substrates using destabilization by the N- or C-degron. C-terminal tagging of essential yeast proteins with the bidirectional degron resulted in deletion-like phenotypes at non-permissive conditions. Developmental process-specific mutants were created by N- or C-terminal tagging of essential proteins with the bidirectional degron in combination with sporulation-specific production of the TEV protease. CONCLUSIONS: We developed a system to influence protein abundance and activity genetically, which can be used to create conditional mutants, to regulate the fate of single protein domains or to design artificial regulatory circuits. Thus, this method enhances the toolbox to manipulate proteins in systems biology approaches considerably.
Project description:The anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C) regulates sister chromatid segregation and the exit from mitosis. Selection of most APC/C substrates is controlled by coactivator subunits (either Cdc20 or Cdh1) that interact with substrate destruction motifs--predominantly the destruction (D) box and KEN box degrons. How coactivators recognize D box degrons and how this is inhibited by APC/C regulatory proteins is not defined at the atomic level. Here, from the crystal structure of S. cerevisiae Cdh1 in complex with its specific inhibitor Acm1, which incorporates D and KEN box pseudosubstrate motifs, we describe the molecular basis for D box recognition. Additional interactions between Acm1 and Cdh1 identify a third protein-binding site on Cdh1 that is likely to confer coactivator-specific protein functions including substrate association. We provide a structural rationalization for D box and KEN box recognition by coactivators and demonstrate that many noncanonical APC/C degrons bind APC/C coactivators at the D box coreceptor.