Proteomic techniques to probe the ubiquitin landscape

Proteomics. 2016 Jan;16(2):273-87. doi: 10.1002/pmic.201500290. Epub 2015 Dec 15.


Protein ubiquitination is a powerful modulator of cellular functions. Classically linked to the degradation of proteins, it also plays a role in intracellular localization, DNA damage response, vesicle fusion events, and the immune and transcriptional responses. Ubiquitin is versatile and can code for several distinct signals, either by adding a single ubiquitin or forming a chain of ubiquitins on the target protein. The enzymatic cascade associated with the cellular process determines the nature of the modification. Numerous efforts have been made for the identification of ubiquitin acceptor sites in the target proteins using genetic, biochemical or MS-based proteomic methods, such as affinity-based enrichment of ubiquitinated proteins, and antibody-based enrichment of modified peptides. Modern instrumentation enables quantitative MS strategies to identify and characterize hundreds of ubiquitin substrates in a single analysis making it the dominant method for ubiquitin site detection. Characterization of the interubiquitin connectivity in ubiquitin polymers has also moved into focus, with the field of targeted proteomics techniques proving invaluable for identifying and quantifying linkage types found in such polyubiquitin chains. This review seeks to provide an overview of the many MS-based proteomics techniques available for exploring this dynamic field.

Keywords: Mass spectrometry; Technology; Ubiquitin; Ubiquitin chain; Ubiquitination.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Proteomics
  • Ubiquitin / chemistry*
  • Ubiquitin / physiology
  • Ubiquitinated Proteins / chemistry
  • Ubiquitinated Proteins / metabolism
  • Ubiquitination*


  • Ubiquitin
  • Ubiquitinated Proteins