Proteomic investigations of human HERC2 mutants: Insights into the pathobiology of a neurodevelopmental disorder

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2019 Apr 30;512(2):421-427. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2019.02.149. Epub 2019 Mar 19.


HERC2 is a giant protein with E3 ubiquitin ligase activity and other known and suspected functions. Mutations of HERC2 are implicated in the pathogenesis of various cancers and result in severe neurological conditions in Herc2-mutant mice. Recently, a pleotropic autosomal recessive HERC2-associated syndrome of intellectual disability, autism and variable neurological deficits was described; its pathogenetic basis is largely unknown. Using peripheral blood-derived lymphoblasts from 3 persons with homozygous HERC2 variants and 14 age- and gender-matched controls, we performed label-free unbiased HPLC-tandem mass spectrometry-based proteomic analyses to provide insights into HERC2-mediated pathobiology. We found that out of 3427 detected proteins, there were 812 differentially expressed proteins between HERC2-cases vs. controls. 184 canonical pathways were enriched after FDR adjustment, including mitochondrial function, energy metabolism, EIF2 signaling, immune functions, ubiquitination and DNA repair. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis® identified 209 upstream regulators that could drive the differential expression, prominent amongst which were neurodegeneration-associated proteins. Differentially expressed protein interaction networks highlighted themes of immune function/dysfunction, regulation of cell cycle/cell death, and energy metabolism. Overall, the analysis of the HERC2-associated proteome revealed striking differential protein expression between cases and controls. The large number of differentially expressed proteins likely reflects HERC2's multiple domains and numerous interacting proteins. Our canonical pathway and protein interaction network findings suggest derangements of multiple pathways in HERC2-associated disease.

Keywords: Autism; Bioinformatics; HERC2; Neurodevelopment; Proteomics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autistic Disorder / genetics
  • Autistic Disorder / metabolism
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors / chemistry
  • Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors / genetics*
  • Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors / metabolism*
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / genetics
  • Intellectual Disability / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders / genetics*
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders / metabolism*
  • Protein Interaction Maps
  • Proteomics
  • Signal Transduction
  • Syndrome
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • Young Adult


  • Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors
  • HERC2 protein, human
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases