In this study, we found that the E6-associated protein (E6-AP/UBE3A) directly interacts with and coactivates the transcriptional activity of the human progesterone receptor (PR) in a hormone-dependent manner. E6-AP also coactivates the hormone-dependent transcriptional activities of the other members of the nuclear hormone receptor superfamily. Previously, it was shown that E6-AP serves the role of a ubiquitin-protein ligase (E3) in the presence of the E6 protein from human papillomavirus types 16 and 18. Our data show that the ubiquitin-protein ligase function of E6-AP is dispensable for its ability to coactivate nuclear hormone receptors, showing that E6-AP possesses two separable independent functions, as both a coactivator and a ubiquitin-protein ligase. Disruption of the maternal copy of E6-AP is correlated with Angelman syndrome (AS), a genetic neurological disorder characterized by severe mental retardation, seizures, speech impairment, and other symptoms. However, the exact mechanism by which the defective E6-AP gene causes AS remains unknown. To correlate the E6-AP coactivator function and ubiquitin-protein ligase functions with the AS phenotype, we expressed mutant forms of E6-AP isolated from AS patients and assessed the ability of each of these mutant proteins to coactivate PR or provide ubiquitin-protein ligase activity. This analysis revealed that in the majority of the AS patients examined, the ubiquitin-protein ligase function of E6-AP was defective whereas the coactivator function was intact. This finding suggests that the AS phenotype results from a defect in the ubiquitin-proteosome protein degradation pathway.