Deubiquitinase-based analysis of ubiquitin chain architecture using Ubiquitin Chain Restriction (UbiCRest)

Nat Protoc. 2015 Feb;10(2):349-361. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2015.018. Epub 2015 Jan 29.


Protein ubiquitination is a versatile protein modification that regulates virtually all cellular processes. This versatility originates from polyubiquitin chains, which can be linked in eight distinct ways. The combinatorial complexity of eight linkage types in homotypic (one chain type per polymer) and heterotypic (multiple linkage types per polymer) chains poses significant problems for biochemical analysis. Here we describe UbiCRest, in which substrates (ubiquitinated proteins or polyubiquitin chains) are treated with a panel of linkage-specific deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs) in parallel reactions, followed by gel-based analysis. UbiCRest can be used to show that a protein is ubiquitinated, to identify which linkage type(s) are present on polyubiquitinated proteins and to assess the architecture of heterotypic polyubiquitin chains. DUBs used in UbiCRest can be obtained commercially; however, we include details for generating a toolkit of purified DUBs and for profiling their linkage preferences in vitro. UbiCRest is a qualitative method that yields insights into ubiquitin chain linkage types and architecture within hours, and it can be performed on western blotting quantities of endogenously ubiquitinated proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biochemistry / methods*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Ubiquitin / analysis*
  • Ubiquitin / chemistry
  • Ubiquitin / metabolism
  • Ubiquitin-Specific Proteases / chemistry
  • Ubiquitin-Specific Proteases / metabolism*
  • Ubiquitinated Proteins / analysis*
  • Ubiquitinated Proteins / chemistry*
  • Ubiquitination


  • Ubiquitin
  • Ubiquitinated Proteins
  • Ubiquitin-Specific Proteases