Canzani, D., et al. Degronomics: Mapping the Interacting Peptidome of a Ubiquitin Ligase Using an Integrative Mass Spectrometry Strategy. 91 (20), 12775-12783
Human cells make use of hundreds of unique ubiquitin E3 ligases to ensure proteome fidelity and control cellular functions by promoting protein degradation. These processes require exquisite selectivity, but the individual roles of most E3s remain poorly characterized in part due to the challenges associated with identifying, quantifying, and validating substrates for each E3. We report an integrative mass spectrometry (MS) strategy for characterizing protein fragments that interact with KLHDC2, a human E3 that recognizes the extreme C-terminus of substrates. Using a combination of native MS, native top-down MS, MS of destabilized samples, and liquid chromatography MS, we identified and quantified a near complete fraction of the KLHDC2-binding peptidome in E. coli cells. This degronome includes peptides that originate from a variety of proteins. Although all identified protein fragments are terminated by diglycine or glycylalanine, the preceding amino acids are diverse. These results significantly expand our understanding of the sequences that can be recognized by KLHDC2, which provides insight into the potential substrates of this E3 in humans. We anticipate that this integrative MS strategy could be leveraged more broadly to characterize the degronomes of other E3 ligase substrate receptors, including those that adhere to the more common N-end rule for substrate recognition. Therefore, this work advances “degronomics,” i.e., identifying, quantifying, and validating functional E3:peptide interactions in order to determine the individual roles of each E3.