A deubiquitinating enzyme that disassembles free polyubiquitin chains is required for development but not growth in Dictyostelium. Academic Article uri icon


  • Although cell differentiation usually involves synthesis of new proteins, little is known about the role of protein degradation. In eukaryotes, conjugation to ubiquitin polymers often targets a protein for destruction. This process is regulated by deubiquitinating enzymes, which can disassemble ubiquitin polymers or ubiquitin-substrate conjugates. We find that a deubiquitinating enzyme, UbpA, is required for Dictyostelium development. ubpA cells have normal protein profiles on gels, grow normally, and show normal responses to starvation such as differentiation and secretion of conditioned medium factor. However, ubpA cells have defective aggregation, chemotaxis, cAMP relay, and cell adhesion. These defects result from low expression of cAMP pulse-induced genes such as those encoding the cAR1 cAMP receptor, phosphodiesterase, and the gp80 adhesion protein. Treatment of ubpA cells with pulses of exogenous cAMP allows them to aggregate and express these genes like wild-type cells, but they still fail to develop fruiting bodies. Unlike wild type, ubpA cells accumulate ubiquitin-containing species that comigrate with ubiquitin polymers, suggesting a defect in polyubiquitin metabolism. UbpA has sequence similarity with yeast Ubp14, which disassembles free ubiquitin chains. Yeast ubp14 cells have a defect in proteolysis, due to excess ubiquitin chains competing for substrate binding to proteasomes. Cross-species complementation and enzyme specificity assays indicate that UbpA and Ubp14 are functional homologs. We suggest that specific developmental transitions in Dictyostelium require the degradation of specific proteins and that this process in turn requires the disassembly of polyubiquitin chains by UbpA.

published proceedings

  • J Biol Chem

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Lindsey, D. F., Amerik, A., Deery, W. J., Bishop, J. D., Hochstrasser, M., & Gomer, R. H.

citation count

  • 40

complete list of authors

  • Lindsey, DF||Amerik, A||Deery, WJ||Bishop, JD||Hochstrasser, M||Gomer, RH

publication date

  • January 1998