The membrane-bound sterol regulatory element-binding protein (SREBP) transcription factors regulate lipogenesis in mammalian cells and are activated through sequential cleavage by the Golgi-localized Site-1 and Site-2 proteases. The mechanism of fission yeast SREBP cleavage is less well defined and, in contrast, requires the Golgi-localized Dsc E3 ligase complex. The Dsc E3 ligase consists of five integral membrane subunits, Dsc1 through Dsc5, and resembles membrane E3 ligases that function in endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation. Using immunoprecipitation assays and blue native electrophoresis, we determined the subunit architecture for the complex of Dsc1 through Dsc5, showing that the Dsc proteins form subcomplexes and display defined connectivity. Dsc2 is a rhomboid pseudoprotease family member homologous to mammalian UBAC2 and a central component of the Dsc E3 ligase. We identified conservation in the architecture of the Dsc E3 ligase and the multisubunit E3 ligase gp78 in mammals. Specifically, Dsc1-Dsc2-Dsc5 forms a complex resembling gp78-UBAC2-UBXD8. Further characterization of Dsc2 revealed that its C-terminal UBA domain can bind to ubiquitin chains but that the Dsc2 UBA domain is not essential for yeast SREBP cleavage. Based on the ability of rhomboid superfamily members to bind transmembrane proteins, we speculate that Dsc2 functions in SREBP recognition and binding. Homologs of Dsc1 through Dsc4 are required for SREBP cleavage and virulence in the human opportunistic pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus. Thus, these studies advance our organizational understanding of multisubunit E3 ligases involved in endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation and fungal pathogenesis.
Keywords: ER-associated Degradation; Hypoxia; SREBP; Transcription Factors; Ubiquitin; Ubiquitin Ligase.