28252051.pdf (575.18 kB)

Determination of the pKa of the N-terminal amino group of ubiquitin by NMR

Download (575.18 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 15.10.2020 by Alain Oregioni, Benjamin Stieglitz, Geoffrey Kelly, Katrin Rittinger, Tom Frenkiel
Ubiquitination regulates nearly every aspect of cellular life. It is catalysed by a cascade of three enzymes and results in the attachment of the C-terminal carboxylate of ubiquitin to a lysine side chain in the protein substrate. Chain extension occurs via addition of subsequent ubiquitin molecules to either one of the seven lysine residues of ubiquitin, or via its N-terminal α-amino group to build linear ubiquitin chains. The pKa of lysine side chains is around 10.5 and hence E3 ligases require a mechanism to deprotonate the amino group at physiological pH to produce an effective nucleophile. In contrast, the pKa of N-terminal α-amino groups of proteins can vary significantly, with reported values between 6.8 and 9.1, raising the possibility that linear chain synthesis may not require a general base. In this study we use NMR spectroscopy to determine the pKa for the N-terminal α-amino group of methionine1 of ubiquitin for the first time. We show that it is 9.14, one of the highest pKa values ever reported for this amino group, providing a rational for the observed need for a general base in the E3 ligase HOIP, which synthesizes linear ubiquitin chains.