Linear ubiquitination signals in adaptive immune responses

Immunol Rev. 2015 Jul;266(1):222-36. doi: 10.1111/imr.12300.


Ubiquitin can form eight different linkage types of chains using the intrinsic Met 1 residue or one of the seven intrinsic Lys residues. Each linkage type of ubiquitin chain has a distinct three-dimensional topology, functioning as a tag to attract specific signaling molecules, which are so-called ubiquitin readers, and regulates various biological functions. Ubiquitin chains linked via Met 1 in a head-to-tail manner are called linear ubiquitin chains. Linear ubiquitination plays an important role in the regulation of cellular signaling, including the best-characterized tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-induced canonical nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) pathway. Linear ubiquitin chains are specifically generated by an E3 ligase complex called the linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex (LUBAC) and hydrolyzed by a deubiquitinase (DUB) called ovarian tumor (OTU) DUB with linear linkage specificity (OTULIN). LUBAC linearly ubiquitinates critical molecules in the TNF pathway, such as NEMO and RIPK1. The linear ubiquitin chains are then recognized by the ubiquitin readers, including NEMO, which control the TNF pathway. Accumulating evidence indicates an importance of the LUBAC complex in the regulation of apoptosis, development, and inflammation in mice. In this article, I focus on the role of linear ubiquitin chains in adaptive immune responses with an emphasis on the TNF-induced signaling pathways.

Keywords: LUBAC; NEMO; NF-κB; TNF; apoptosis; linear ubiquitin chain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Animals
  • Endopeptidases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • I-kappa B Kinase / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Receptor-Interacting Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / metabolism*
  • Ubiquitination


  • IKBKG protein, human
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • NF-kappa B
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • RIPK1 protein, human
  • Receptor-Interacting Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • I-kappa B Kinase
  • Endopeptidases
  • OTULIN protein, human