HUWE1 Amplifies Ubiquitin Modifications to Broadly Stimulate Clearance of Proteins and Aggregates

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Selective breakdown of proteins and aggregates is crucial for maintaining normal cellular activities and is involved in the pathogenesis of diverse diseases. How the cell recognizes and tags these targets in different structural states for degradation by the proteasome and autophagy pathways has not been well understood. Here, we discovered that a HECT-family ubiquitin ligase HUWE1 is broadly required for the efficient degradation of soluble factors and for the clearance of protein aggregates/condensates. Underlying this capacity of HUWE1 is a novel Ubiquitin-Directed ubiquitin Ligase (UDL) activity which recognizes both soluble substrates and aggregates that carry a high density of ubiquitin chains and rapidly expand the ubiquitin modifications on these targets. Ubiquitin signal amplification by HUWE1 recruits the ubiquitin-dependent segregase p97/VCP to process these targets for subsequent degradation or clearance. HUWE1 controls the cytotoxicity of protein aggregates, mediates Targeted Protein Degradation and regulates cell-cycle transitions with its UDL activity.

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