Just One Position-Independent Lysine Residue Can Direct MelanA into Proteasomal Degradation following N-Terminal Fusion of Ubiquitin

Setz, Christian; Friedrich, Melanie; Hahn, Sabine; Dörrie, Jan; Schaft, Niels; Schuler, Gerold; Schubert, Ulrich
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
N-terminal stable in frame fusion of ubiquitin (Ub) has been shown to target the fusion protein for proteasomal degradation. This pathway, called the Ub fusion degradation (UFD), might also elevate MHC class I (MHC-I) antigen presentation of specific antigens. The UFD, mainly studied on cytosolic proteins, has been described to be mediated by polyubiquitination of specific lysine residues within the fused Ub moiety. Using the well characterized melanoma-specific antigen MelanA as a model protein, we analyzed the requirements of the UFD for ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of a transmembrane protein. Here we show that fusion of the non-cleavable UbG76V variant to the N-terminus of MelanA results in rapid proteasomal degradation via the endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation (ERAD) pathway and, consequently, leads to an increased MHC-I antigen presentation. While lysine residues within Ub are dispensable for these effects, the presence of one single lysine residue, irrespectively of its location along the fusion protein, is sufficient to induce degradation of MelanA. These results show that the ubiquitination, ER to cytosol relocation and proteasomal degradation of a transmembrane protein can be increased by N-terminal fusion of Ub at the presence of at least one, position independent lysine residue. These findings are in contrast to the conventional wisdom concerning the UFD and indicate a new concept to target a protein into the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) and thus for enhanced MHC-I antigen presentation, and might open up new possibilities in the development of tumor vaccines.


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