IMAJ | volume
Journal 4, April 2006
Polyubiquitylation of cellular proteins has long been recognized as a prelude to a degradative fate in proteasomes. In recent years, however, ubiquitin conjugation has emerged as a regulatory strategy of considerable versatility. Most notably, monoubiquitylation is attributed an intimate role in trafficking of membrane proteins between various cellular compartments. Diverse classes of transmembrane proteins from across the eukaryotic spectrum (e.g., epidermal growth factor-receptor and other receptor tyrosine kinases) become modified with monoubiquitin molecules. Monoubiquitylation of substrates, in turn, regulates both their endocytosis at the plasma membrane and sorting in endosomes for delivery to lysosomes or vacuoles. A mechanistic rationale lies in the identification of a growing list of ubiquitin-binding domains carried by a variety of endocytic adaptor proteins. Thus, ubiquitin-conjugated membrane proteins may form extensive contacts with the endocytic machinery. Further, ubiquitin-binding adaptors and other endocytic components are, likewise, often monoubiquitylated. In this case, ubiquitin conjugation may serve to enhance intermolecular avidity in cargo-bound endocytic complexes, or alternatively, to mediate timely inactivation of ubiquitin-binding adaptors. Interestingly, the ubiquitin/endocytosis interface is appropriated by pathogenic organisms, for instance, during budding of viruses from host-infected cells. Moreover, compromised ubiquitin-mediated transport of certain signaling receptors is associated with disease states, including oncogenic transformation.