Cul1 and Cul7 are cullin E3 ubiquitin ligase scaffold proteins. Cul1 is known to form a complex with the RING domain protein Rbx1 and one of approximately 70 different F-box proteins. F-box proteins function as substrate receptor subunits and recruit numerous substrates for poly-ubiquitination. Similarly to Cul1, Cul7 interacts with Rbx1, however, only one F-box protein, Fbxw8, has been shown to bind to Cul7. To date only few Cul7 E3 ubiquitin ligase substrates, including cyclin D1, IRS-1 and GRASP65, have been reported, and using Fbxw8 affinity purification, we were unable to identify additional substrate proteins. Here we provide evidence for a model in which Cul7-Rbx1 can promote the ubiquitination of Cul1 substrates by forming high order complexes with Cul1-Rbx1. Binding of Cul1-Rbx1 to Cul7-Rbx1 is mediated via heterodimerization of Fbxw8 with other F-box proteins which function to recruit substrates into the E3 ligase complex. The formation of this high order complex is likely to increase polyubiquitination efficiency.
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