Research ArticleBIOPHYSICS

The dynamics of linear polyubiquitin

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Science Advances  14 Oct 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 42, eabc3786
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc3786


Polyubiquitin chains are flexible multidomain proteins, whose conformational dynamics enable them to regulate multiple biological pathways. Their dynamic is determined by the linkage between ubiquitins and by the number of ubiquitin units. Characterizing polyubiquitin behavior as a function of their length is hampered because of increasing system size and conformational variability. Here, we introduce a new approach to efficiently integrating small-angle x-ray scattering with simulations allowing us to accurately characterize the dynamics of linear di-, tri-, and tetraubiquitin in the free state as well as of diubiquitin in complex with NEMO, a central regulator in the NF-κB pathway. Our results show that the behavior of the diubiquitin subunits is independent of the presence of additional ubiquitin modules and that the dynamics of polyubiquitins with different lengths follow a simple model. Together with experimental data from multiple biophysical techniques, we then rationalize the 2:1 NEMO:polyubiquitin binding.

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