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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Cullin-RING ubiquitin ligases: global regulation and activation cycles

Dimple R Bosu and Edward T Kipreos*

Author Affiliations

Department of Cellular Biology, University of Georgia, 724 Biological Sciences Bldg., Athens, GA 30602-2607, USA

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Cell Division 2008, 3:7  doi:10.1186/1747-1028-3-7

Published: 18 February 2008

Abstract

Cullin-RING ubiquitin ligases (CRLs) comprise the largest known category of ubiquitin ligases. CRLs regulate an extensive number of dynamic cellular processes, including multiple aspects of the cell cycle, transcription, signal transduction, and development. CRLs are multisubunit complexes composed of a cullin, RING H2 finger protein, a variable substrate-recognition subunit (SRS), and for most CRLs, an adaptor that links the SRS to the complex. Eukaryotic species contain multiple cullins, with five major types in metazoa. Each cullin forms a distinct class of CRL complex, with distinct adaptors and/or substrate-recognition subunits. Despite this diversity, each of the classes of CRL complexes is subject to similar regulatory mechanisms. This review focuses on the global regulation of CRL complexes, encompassing: neddylation, deneddylation by the COP9 Signalosome (CSN), inhibitory binding by CAND1, and the dimerization of CRL complexes. We also address the role of cycles of activation and inactivation in regulating CRL activity and switching between substrate-recognition subunits.