Human polycomb 2 protein is a SUMO E3 ligase and alleviates substrate-induced inhibition of cystathionine beta-synthase sumoylation

PLoS One. 2008;3(12):e4032. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004032. Epub 2008 Dec 24.


Human cystathionine beta-synthase (CBS) catalyzes the first irreversible step in the transsulfuration pathway and commits homocysteine to the synthesis of cysteine. Mutations in CBS are the most common cause of severe hereditary hyperhomocysteinemia. A yeast two-hybrid approach to screen for proteins that interact with CBS had previously identified several components of the sumoylation pathway and resulted in the demonstration that CBS is a substrate for sumoylation. In this study, we demonstrate that sumoylation of CBS is enhanced in the presence of human polycomb group protein 2 (hPc2), an interacting partner that was identified in the initial yeast two-hybrid screen. When the substrates for CBS, homocysteine and serine for cystathionine generation and homocysteine and cysteine for H(2)S generation, are added to the sumoylation mixture, they inhibit the sumoylation reaction, but only in the absence of hPc2. Similarly, the product of the CBS reaction, cystathionine, inhibits sumoylation in the absence of hPc2. Sumoylation in turn decreases CBS activity by approximately 28% in the absence of hPc2 and by 70% in its presence. Based on these results, we conclude that hPc2 serves as a SUMO E3 ligase for CBS, increasing the efficiency of sumoylation. We also demonstrate that gamma-cystathionase, the second enzyme in the transsulfuration pathway is a substrate for sumoylation under in vitro conditions. We speculate that the role of this modification may be for nuclear localization of the cysteine-generating pathway under conditions where nuclear glutathione demand is high.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cystathionine beta-Synthase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Cystathionine beta-Synthase / metabolism*
  • Cysteine / pharmacology
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Homocysteine / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Ligases
  • Models, Molecular
  • Polycomb-Group Proteins
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / drug effects
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / physiology
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism
  • Repressor Proteins / physiology*
  • S-Adenosylmethionine / pharmacology
  • SUMO-1 Protein / metabolism*
  • Serine / pharmacology
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / metabolism
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / physiology*


  • Polycomb-Group Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • SUMO-1 Protein
  • Homocysteine
  • Serine
  • S-Adenosylmethionine
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • Cystathionine beta-Synthase
  • Ligases
  • CBX4 protein, human
  • Cysteine