Role of Linear Ubiquitination in Health and Disease

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The covalent attachment of ubiquitin to target proteins is one of the most prevalent post-translational modifications, regulating a myriad of cellular processes including cell growth, survival, and metabolism. Recently, a novel RING E3 ligase complex was described, called linear ubiquitin assembly complex (LUBAC), which is capable of connecting ubiquitin molecules in a novel head-to-tail fashion via the N-terminal methionine residue. LUBAC is a heteromeric complex composed of heme-oxidized iron-responsive element-binding protein 2 ubiquitin ligase-1L (HOIL-1L), HOIL-1L-interacting protein, and shank-associated RH domain-interacting protein (SHARPIN). The essential role of LUBAC-generated linear chains for activation of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) signaling was first described in the activation of tumor necrosis factor-α receptor signaling complex. A decade of research has identified additional pathways that use LUBAC for downstream signaling, including CD40 ligand and the IL-1β receptor, as well as cytosolic pattern recognition receptors including nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain containing 2 (NOD2), retinoic acid-inducible gene 1 (RIG-1), and the NOD-like receptor family, pyrin domain containing 3 inflammasome (NLRP3). Even though the three components of the complex are required for full activation of NF-κB, the individual components of LUBAC regulate specific cell type- and stimuli-dependent effects. In humans, autosomal defects in LUBAC are associated with both autoinflammation and immunodeficiency, with additional disorders described in mice. Moreover, in the lung epithelium, HOIL-1L ubiquitinates target proteins independently of the other LUBAC components, adding another layer of complexity to the function and regulation of LUBAC. Although many advances have been made, the diverse functions of linear ubiquitin chains and the regulation of LUBAC are not yet completely understood. In this review, we discuss the various roles of linear ubiquitin chains and point to areas of study that would benefit from further investigation into LUBAC-mediated signaling pathways in lung pathophysiology.

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