Identification of a p53-based portable degron based on the MDM2-p53 binding region

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In recent years the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS) has garnered increasing interest as a target for chemotherapeutics. Due to the success of the proteasome inhibitors Bortezomib and Carfilzomib in the treatment of multiple myeloma, several new compounds have been developed to target E3 ubiquitin ligases and the proteasome in numerous human cancers. This has increased the need for new analytical methods to precisely measure intracellular enzyme activity in cells. A key component of a desired analytical method is a substrate that is capable of rapid intracellular ubiquitination yet easily incorporated into the next generation of more sophisticated UPS reporters. Portable degradation sequences, or degrons, have the ability to bind to E3 ligases and promote substrate ubiquitination when the sequence is presented in isolation or appended to other entities such as fluorescent peptide-based reporters. Previous work identified an E3 ligase (MDM2)-binding element at p53 amino acids 92-112, which was later demonstrated to be rapidly ubiquitinated in cytosolic lysates effectively functioning as a transportable degron. In this work, a shortened p53 sequence within amino acids 92-112 that displayed rapid ubiquitination kinetics was identified. A nine-member peptide library was synthesized using sequence elements of various sizes and lengths, all based on the initial 22 amino acid long sequence, containing a single ubiquitination site lysine. The ubiquitination kinetics were determined using a combination of gel electrophoresis and analytical high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) to rank the members of the library and identify the optimal ubiquitination sequence. This analysis identified the five amino acid sequence, KGSYG, corresponding to residues 105-108 with an added N-terminal lysine, as a portable degron since this sequence demonstrated the most rapid ubiquitination kinetics.

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The Analyst

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