Regulation of catalytic activity of E3 ubiquitin ligases is critical for their cellular functions. We identified an unexpected mode of regulation of E3 catalytic activity by ions and osmolarity; enzymatic activity of the HECT family E3 Nedd4-2/Nedd4L is enhanced by increased intracellular Na+ ([Na+]i) and by hyperosmolarity. This stimulated activity is mediated by activation of p38-MAPK and is inhibited by WNKs. Moreover, protease (Furin)-mediated activation of the epithelial Na+ channel ENaC (a bona fide Nedd4-2 substrate), which leads to increased [Na+]i and osmolarity, results in enhanced Nedd4-2 catalytic activity. This enhancement is inhibited by a Furin inhibitor, by a protease-resistant ENaC mutant, or by treatment with the ENaC inhibitor amiloride. Moreover, WNK inhibition, which stimulates catalytic activity of Nedd4-2, leads to reduced levels of cell-surface ENaC and reduced channel activity. ENaC activity does not affect Nedd4-2:ENaC binding. Therefore, these results demonstrate activation of a ubiquitin ligase by Na+ and osmotic changes. Importantly, they reveal a negative feedback loop in which active ENaC leads to stimulation of catalytic activity of its own suppressor, Nedd4-2, to protect cells from excessive Na+ loading and hyperosmotic stress and to protect the animal from hypertension.
Keywords: ENaC; HECT; Nedd4L; hyperosmolarity; sodium.