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Papers of the Week

Papers: 14 Jan 2023 - 20 Jan 2023

2023 Jan 12

Phys Chem Chem Phys

Histone tail electrostatics modulate E2-E3 enzyme dynamics: a gateway to regulate ubiquitination machinery.



BRCA1 (Breast Cancer-Associated Protein 1) is a human tumor suppressor that functions as an ubiquitin (Ub) ligase enzyme (E3) and plays a key role in genomic stability and DNA repair. Heterodimerization of BRCA1 with BARD1 (BRCA1-associated RING domain protein 1) is known to increase its Ub ligase activity and is important for its stability, and cooperative activation of UbcH5c (Ub conjugating enzyme (E2)). Recent studies demonstrate the importance of ubiquitination of the nucleosomal H2A C-terminal tail by BRCA1/BARD1-UbcH5c in which its mutations inhibit ubiquitination, predispose cells to chromosomal instability and greatly increase the likelihood of breast and ovarian cancer development. Due to the lack of molecular-level insight on the flexible and dis-ordered H2A C-tail, its ubiquitination mechanism by BRCA1/BARD1-UbcH5c and its function and relationship to cancer susceptibility remain elusive. Here, we use molecular dynamics simulations to provide molecular-level insights into the dynamics of the less-studied H2A C-tail and BRCA1/BARD1-UbcH5c on the nucleosome surface and their effect on ubiquitination. Our results precisely identify the key interactions and residues that trigger conformational transitions of BRCA1/BARD1-UbcH5c, and characterize the important role of histone electrostatics in their dynamics. We provide a mechanistic basis for the H2A C-tail lysine approach to UbcH5c and show the role of H2A C-tail and UbcH5c dynamics in lysine ubiquitination. Furthermore, our data demonstrate the potential for ubiquitination based on the lysine position of the C-tail. Altogether, the findings of this study provide unrevealed insights into the mechanism of H2A C-tail ubiquitination and help us understand the communication between Ub ligase/Ub conjugating enzymes (E3/E2) and nucleosome to regulate ubiquitination machinery, paving the way for the development of effective treatments for cancer and chronic pain.