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Ubiquitination is an essential post-translational modification that regulates signalling and protein turnover in eukaryotic cells. Specificity of ubiquitination is driven by ubiquitin E3 ligases, many of which remain poorly understood. One such is the mammalian muskelin/RanBP9/CTLH complex that includes eight proteins, five of which (RanBP9/RanBPM, TWA1, MAEA, Rmnd5 and muskelin), share striking similarities of domain architecture and have been implicated in regulation of cell organisation. In budding yeast, the homologous GID complex acts to down-regulate gluconeogenesis. In both complexes, Rmnd5/GID2 corresponds to a RING ubiquitin ligase. To better understand this E3 ligase system, we conducted molecular phylogenetic and sequence analyses of the related components. TWA1, Rmnd5, MAEA and WDR26 are conserved throughout all eukaryotic supergroups, albeit WDR26 was not identified in Rhizaria. RanBPM is absent from Excavates and from some sub-lineages. Armc8 and c17orf39 were represented across unikonts but in bikonts were identified only in Viridiplantae and in O. trifallax within alveolates. Muskelin is present only in Opisthokonts. Phylogenetic and sequence analyses of the shared LisH and CTLH domains of RanBPM, TWA1, MAEA and Rmnd5 revealed closer relationships and profiles of conserved residues between, respectively, Rmnd5 and MAEA, and RanBPM and TWA1. Rmnd5 and MAEA are also related by the presence of conserved, variant RING domains. Examination of how N- or C-terminal domain deletions alter the sub-cellular localisation of each protein in mammalian cells identified distinct contributions of the LisH domains to protein localisation or folding/stability. In conclusion, all components except muskelin are inferred to have been present in the last eukaryotic common ancestor. Diversification of this ligase complex in different eukaryotic lineages may result from the apparently fast evolution of RanBPM, differing requirements for WDR26, Armc8 or c17orf39, and the origin of muskelin in opisthokonts as a RanBPM-binding protein.


Ore Francis, Fujun Han, Josephine C Adams. Molecular phylogeny of a RING E3 ubiquitin ligase, conserved in eukaryotic cells and dominated by homologous components, the muskelin/RanBPM/CTLH complex. PloS one. 2013;8(10):e75217

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PMID: 24143168

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