The ubiquitin system controls many cellular pathways. Proteins are tagged with ubiquitin via an E1-E2-E3 cascade, and this frequently leads to degradation via the proteasome. Deubiquitinating enzymes (Dubs) act to remove ubiquitin from proteins, leading to reversal of the signaling input generated by the ubiquitination event. A small number of Dubs have been linked to important cellular pathways linked to transcriptional control, oncogenesis, tumor suppression, and neurodegeneration, yet the biological functions, interaction partners, and substrates of the majority of Dubs are unknown. We have recently developed a new informatic and experimental platform for semi high-throughput proteomic analysis of protein complexes and have applied this technology to 75 of the 95 Dubs encoded by the human genome, using 293T cells as an initial cell system. These studies reveal that a substantial fraction of Dubs are stably associated with previously identified and novel protein complexes. In many cases, the identity of associated proteins provides the first indications of the biological functions or pathways in which uncharacterized Dubs may operate. Several Dubs and/or their associated proteins have been identified in shRNA-based checkpoint screens, providing candidate biological pathways for many Dubs and their newly identified complexes. Several themes have emerged: 1) Dubs are frequently components of large molecular machines, 2) Dubs frequently associate with E3s, and 3) WD40- repeat containing proteins (including WD40 proteins that have recently been shown to bind ubiquitin) are frequently associated with Dubs, which is interesting in light of the recent finding that WDR48 activates Usp1. Our approach identified many tightly associated proteins but known substrates of a small number of well- studied Dubs were not identified, suggesting that alternative approaches are required to identify more weakly bound substrates of Dubs. This proposal seeks to further elucidate the functions and pathways controlled by Dubs.
In aim 1, we will complete our systematic analysis of the Dub proteome, and will examine the proteome of "substrate-trapping" Dub mutants with the goal of identifying weakly bound substrates. Further enhancement and integration of our informatics platform and database is also proposed.
Aim 2 has the broad goal of elucidating emerging themes in the function and regulation of Dubs, including: 1) the role of WD40 proteins as activator and substrate receptor subunits of Dubs, and 2) the cross-regulation of Dubs, E3s, and targets of E3s. These themes will be addressed using 2 specific Dub networks we have identified via our proteomics analysis. Together, these experiments will provide a powerful resource for the field devoted to elucidating the functions and targets of Dubs and will begin to uncover important regulatory networks that appear to be commonly employed to regulate Dub function.

Public Health Relevance

Modification of proteins by ubiquitin constitutes a primary mode of protein regulation in cells and underlies diverse signaling pathways. Removal of ubiquitin is a key step in many pathways and can lead to alterations in the flux through signaling pathways. The enzymes responsible for ubiquitin removal are referred to as deubiquitinating enzymes (Dubs). Several Dubs have been implicated in key signaling systems, including p53 regulation, the DNA damage response, DNA repair, and neurodegenerative diseases. We have employed proteomics to elucidate the proteins and protein complexes associated with 75 of the 95 Dubs present in the human genome. In many cases, we provide the first indications of the pathways within which a particular Dub functions. In this proposal, we seek to continue to elucidate Dub pathways by employing substrate trapping mutants in a systematic analysis of Dub targets, and we propose to elucidate 2 major regulatory themes that have emerged from our proteomic analysis thus far: 1) activation of Dubs by WD40 proteins and reciprocal regulation of E3s by Dubs. This work will continue to strengthen our understanding of the functions and regulation of Dubs in a systematic manner.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Cellular Signaling and Regulatory Systems Study Section (CSRS)
Program Officer
Gerratana, Barbara
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Harvard University
Anatomy/Cell Biology
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Armour, Sean M; Bennett, Eric J; Braun, Craig R et al. (2013) A high-confidence interaction map identifies SIRT1 as a mediator of acetylation of USP22 and the SAGA coactivator complex. Mol Cell Biol 33:1487-502
Zhang, Chi; Mejia, Luis A; Huang, Ju et al. (2013) The X-linked intellectual disability protein PHF6 associates with the PAF1 complex and regulates neuronal migration in the mammalian brain. Neuron 78:986-93
Mosammaparast, Nima; Kim, Haeyoung; Laurent, Benoit et al. (2013) The histone demethylase LSD1/KDM1A promotes the DNA damage response. J Cell Biol 203:457-70
Tan, Min Jie Alvin; White, Elizabeth A; Sowa, Mathew E et al. (2012) Cutaneous *-human papillomavirus E6 proteins bind Mastermind-like coactivators and repress Notch signaling. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109:E1473-80
Ma, Honghui; Chen, Hao; Guo, Xue et al. (2012) M phase phosphorylation of the epigenetic regulator UHRF1 regulates its physical association with the deubiquitylase USP7 and stability. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109:4828-33
Raman, Malavika; Havens, Courtney G; Walter, Johannes C et al. (2011) A genome-wide screen identifies p97 as an essential regulator of DNA damage-dependent CDT1 destruction. Mol Cell 44:72-84
Dango, Sebastian; Mosammaparast, Nima; Sowa, Mathew E et al. (2011) DNA unwinding by ASCC3 helicase is coupled to ALKBH3-dependent DNA alkylation repair and cancer cell proliferation. Mol Cell 44:373-84
Rahman, Shaila; Sowa, Mathew E; Ottinger, Matthias et al. (2011) The Brd4 extraterminal domain confers transcription activation independent of pTEFb by recruiting multiple proteins, including NSD3. Mol Cell Biol 31:2641-52
Litterman, Nadia; Ikeuchi, Yoshiho; Gallardo, Gilbert et al. (2011) An OBSL1-Cul7Fbxw8 ubiquitin ligase signaling mechanism regulates Golgi morphology and dendrite patterning. PLoS Biol 9:e1001060
Gao, Daming; Inuzuka, Hiroyuki; Tan, Meng-Kwang Marcus et al. (2011) mTOR drives its own activation via SCF(?TrCP)-dependent degradation of the mTOR inhibitor DEPTOR. Mol Cell 44:290-303

Showing the most recent 10 out of 46 publications