Ubiquitin-associated (UBA) domains are protein domains that non-covalently interact with ubiquitin through protein-protein interactions. Ubiquitin is a small protein that is covalently linked to other proteins as part of intracellular signaling pathways, often as a signal for protein degradation. UBA domains are among the most common ubiquitin-binding domains.
Protein degradation via the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS) allows the cell to selectively negatively regulate intracellular proteins. Protein degradation helps to maintain protein quality control, signalling, and cell cycle progression. UBA has been proposed to limit ubiquitin chain elongation and to target polyubiquitinated proteins to the 26S proteasome for degradation. They have been identified in modular proteins involved in protein trafficking, DNA repair, proteasomal degradation, and cell cycle regulation.
The humanhomologue of yeast Rad23A is one example of a nucleotide excision-repair protein that contains both an internal and a C-terminal UBA domain. The solution structure of human Rad23A UBA(2) showed that the domain forms a compact three-helix bundle.
Comparison of the structures of UBA(1) and UBA(2) reveals that both form very similar folds and have a conserved large hydrophobic surface patch which may be a common protein-interacting surface present in diverse UBA domains. Evidence that ubiquitinbinds to UBA domains leads to the prediction that the hydrophobic surface patch of UBA domains interacts with the hydrophobic surface on the five-stranded beta-sheet of ubiquitin.