Background: In the ubiquitin-dependent proteolysis pathway, a ubiquitin ligase (E3) is responsible for substrate selectivity and timing of degradation. A novel E3, SCF (Skp1-Cullin-1/Cdc53-F-box) plays a pivotal role in cell cycle progression. In fission yeast, F-box/WD-repeat protein Pop1 regulates the level of the CDK (cyclin-dependent kinase) inhibitor Rum1 and the S phase regulator Cdc18.
Results: We have cloned and characterized the pop2+ gene which encodes the Pop1-related F-box/WD-repeat protein. Pop2 plays a role which overlaps with Pop1 in the degradation of Rum1 and Cdc18. However, these two proteins are not functional homologues. Pop1 and Pop2 form hetero-as well as homo-dimers in the cell. We have analysed two fission yeast cullin members and found that cullin-1 functions as a component of SCFPop1,2, whilst cullin-3 is involved in the distinct stress-response pathway.
Conclusions: Fission yeast SCF is composed of Pop1 and Pop2, two structurally related but functionally independent F-box/WD-repeat proteins. By forming three distinct complexes, SCFPop1/Pop1, SCFPop1/Pop2 and SCFPop2/Pop2, SCF has evolved a sophisticated mechanism to control the level of Rum1 and Cdc18. Fission yeast SCF also contains cullin-1 as a universal scaffold and each cullin member plays a distinct biological role.