Ubiquitinylation of the cytosolic domain of a type I membrane protein is not required to initiate its dislocation from the endoplasmic reticulum

Margo H. Furman, Joana Loureiro, Hidde L. Ploegh, Domenico Tortorella

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44 Scopus citations


Human cytomegalovirus US2 and US11 target newly synthesized class I major histocompatibility complex (MHC) heavy chains for rapid degradation by the proteasome through a process termed dislocation. The presence of US2 induces the formation of class I MHC heavy chain conjugates of increased molecular weight that are recognized by a conformation-specific monoclonal antibody, W6/32, suggesting that these class I MHC molecules retain their proper tertiary structure. These conjugates are properly folded glycosylated heavy chains modified by attachment of an estimated one, two, and three ubiquitin molecules. The folded ubiquitinated class I MHC heavy chains are not observed in control cells or in cells transfected with US11, suggesting that US2 targets class I MHC heavy chains for dislocation in a manner distinct from that used by US11. This is further supported by the fact that US2 and US11 show different requirements in terms of the conformation of the heavy chain molecule. Although ubiquitin conjugation may occur on the cytosolic tail of the class I MHC molecule, replacement of lysines in the cytosolic tail of heavy chains with arginine does not prevent their degradation by US2. In an in vitro system that recapitulates US2-mediated dislocation, heavy chains that lack these lysines still occur in an ubiquitin-modified form, but in the soluble (cytoplasmic) fraction. Such ubiquitin conjugation can only occur on the class I MHC lumenal domain and is likely to take place once class I MHC heavy chains have been discharged from the endoplasmic reticulum. We conclude that ubiquitinylation of class I MHC heavy chain is not required during the initial step of the US2-mediated dislocation reaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34804-34811
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number37
StatePublished - 12 Sep 2003


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