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Bound for destruction: Ubiquitination protects against improper Notch signaling

best known for its function in marking proteins for degradation by a waste disposal unit known as a proteasome. Hayashi et al. sought to study the possibility that ubiquitination might play a part in rendering the unbound Notch receptor inert. Their attention was drawn to Nedd4 (a member of the ubiquitin ligase family of molecules that directly bind to proteins marked for degradation), as it had previously been shown that Nedd4 plays a role in the processing of other types of transmembrane proteins. Proteins in the cell membrane must first be internalized through a process known as endocytosis before they can be digested by the proteasome, and indeed other types of ubiquitin ligase have been shown to operate in the endocytosis of ligand-activated Notch. The group first showed that an increase in nedd4 activity resulted in the nicked wing phenotype characteristic of Notch loss of function and in reductions of the total amount of the Notch intracellular domain in the cytoplasm of treated cells. Taken together, these results suggested that Nedd4 works as an antagonist of Notch signaling at an early stage, prior to the proteolytic cleavage of the receptor’s intracellular domain. Further investigation revealed the specific domain by which Nedd4 interacts with Notch and pinpointed the site of origin for this interaction at the cell membrane, a finding congruent with the idea of Nedd4 as an agent of endocytosis. Nedd4’s role as a suppressor of Notch was illustrated even more plainly when the lab showed that inhibition of Nedd4 results in the upregulation of ligand-independent activation of the Notch pathway. Nedd4’s place in the greater scheme of Notch signaling became clearer when the group next turned to examine the interaction between Nedd4 and Deltex (Dx), a putative ubiquitin ligase known to bind and activate the Notch receptor. Hayashi’s group found evidence that Nedd4 and Dx vie with each other to regulate Notch activity during endocytosis, and that Nedd4 actually
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Source:Riken Center for Developmental Biology


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