Ubiquitin-Activated Interaction Traps (UBAITs) identify E3 ligase binding partners

Hazel F. O'Connor, Nancy Lyon, Justin W. Leung, Poonam Agarwal, Caleb D. Swaim, Kyle M. Miller, Jon M. Huibregtse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


We describe a new class of reagents for identifying substrates, adaptors, and regulators of HECT and RING E3s. UBAITs (Ubiquitin-Activated Interaction Traps) are E3-ubiquitin fusion proteins and, in an E1- and E2-dependent manner, the C-terminal ubiquitin moiety forms an amide linkage to proteins that interact with the E3, enabling covalent co-purification of the E3 with partner proteins. We designed UBAITs for both HECT (Rsp5, Itch) and RING (Psh1, RNF126, RNF168) E3s. For HECT E3s, trapping of interacting proteins occurred in vitro either through an E3 thioester-linked lariat intermediate or through an E2 thioester intermediate, and both WT and active-site mutant UBAITs trapped known interacting proteins in yeast and human cells. Yeast Psh1 and human RNF126 and RNF168 UBAITs also trapped known interacting proteins when expressed in cells. Human RNF168 is a key mediator of ubiquitin signaling that promotes DNA double-strand break repair. Using the RNF168 UBAIT, we identify H2AZ - a histone protein involved in DNA repair - as a new target of this E3 ligase. These results demonstrate that UBAITs represent powerful tools for profiling a wide range of ubiquitin ligases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1699-1712
Number of pages14
JournalEMBO Reports
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • HECT E3s
  • RING E3s
  • Ubiquitin
  • Ubiquitin ligases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry


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