Rapid changes in cell physiology during cell cycle transitions or in response to changes in external conditions are often mediated by the degradation of regulatory molecules. These changes are typically directed by the modification of protein targets with chains of the small protein ubiquitin. Ubiquitinization is carried out by a series of three enzymes, sometimes referred to as E1, E2 and E3, which function in tandem to transfer ubiquitin to a substrate. Substrate specificity is usually mediated by the E3 complex, also called a ubiquitin ligase. The SCF and the APC represent two highly conserved multi-subunit ubiquitin ligases important for both cell cycle progression and the regulation of many aspects of cellular physiology. We will examine mechanisms of APC regulation, and also identify the substrates of these and other ubiquitin ligases using a comprehensive screening technique that we have recently developed.
Cancer is the result of uncontrolled cell division. In this proposal, we outline experiments that characterize proteins responsible for the regulation of cell division. In doing this, we can better understand how cancers arise and the characteristics of tumors that can be used to selectively target them.
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