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The active form of E6-associated protein (E6AP)/UBE3A ubiquitin ligase is an oligomer.

Ronchi V.P., Klein J.M., Edwards D.J., Haas A.L.

Employing 125I-polyubiquitin chain formation as a functional readout of ligase activity, biochemical and biophysical evidence demonstrates that catalytically active E6-associated protein (E6AP)/UBE3A is an oligomer. Based on an extant structure previously discounted as an artifact of crystal packing forces, we propose that the fully active form of E6AP is a trimer, analysis of which reveals a buried surface of 7508Å2 and radially symmetric interacting residues that are conserved within the Hect (homologous to E6AP C terminus) ligase superfamily. An absolutely conserved interaction between Phe(727) and a hydrophobic pocket present on the adjacent subunit is critical for trimer stabilization because mutation disrupts the oligomer and decreases kcat 62-fold but fails to affect E2 ubiquitin binding or subsequent formation of the Hect domain Cys(820) ubiquitin thioester catalytic intermediate. Exogenous N-acetylphenylalanylamide reversibly antagonizes Phe(727)-dependent trimer formation and catalytic activity (Ki12 mM), as does a conserved-helical peptide corresponding to residues 474–490 of E6A Pisoform 1 (Ki22M) reported to bind the hydrophobic pocket of other Hect ligases, presumably blocking Phe(727) intercalation and trimer formation. Conversely, oncogenic human papillomavirus-16/18 E6 protein significantly enhances E6AP catalytic activity by promoting trimer formation (Kactivation 1.5 nM) through the ability of E6 to form homodimers. Recombinant E6 protein additionally rescues the kcat defect of the Phe(727) mutation and that of a specific loss-of-function Angelman syndrome mutation that promotes trimer destabilization. The present findings codify otherwise disparate observations regarding the mechanism of E6AP and related Hect ligases in addition to suggesting therapeutic approaches for modulating ligase activity.

J. Biol. Chem. 289:1033-1048(2014) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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