Deamidation of N-terminal Gln by the Ntaq1 Nt(Q)-amidase is a part of the Arg/N-end rule pathway, a ubiquitin-dependent proteolytic system. Here we identify Gln-Usp1(Ct), the C-terminal fragment of the autocleaved Usp1 deubiquitylase, as the first physiological Arg/N-end rule substrate that is targeted for degradation through deamidation of N-terminal Gln. Usp1 regulates genomic stability, in part through the deubiquitylation of monoubiquitylated PCNA, a DNA polymerase processivity factor. The autocleaved Usp1 remains a deubiquitylase because its fragments remain associated with Uaf1, an enhancer of Usp1 activity, until the Gln-Usp1(Ct) fragment is selectively destroyed by the Arg/N-end rule pathway. We also show that metabolic stabilization of Gln-Usp1(Ct) results in a decreased monoubiquitylation of PCNA and in a hypersensitivity of cells to ultraviolet irradiation. Thus, in addition to its other functions in DNA repair and chromosome segregation, the Arg/N-end rule pathway regulates genomic stability through the degradation-mediated control of the autocleaved Usp1 deubiquitylase.
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