Protein ubiquitylation is a recognized signal for protein degradation. However, it is increasingly realized that ubiquitin conjugation to proteins can be used for many other purposes. Furthermore, there are many ubiquitin-like proteins that control the activities of proteins. The central structural element of these post-translational modifications is the ubiquitin superfold. A common ancestor based on this superfold has evolved to give various proteins that are involved in diverse activities in the cell.