Ubiquitin-Modulated Phase Separation of Shuttle Proteins: Does Condensate Formation Promote Protein Degradation?

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24 Scopus citations


Liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) has recently emerged as a possible mechanism that enables ubiquitin-binding shuttle proteins to facilitate the degradation of ubiquitinated substrates via distinct protein quality control (PQC) pathways. Shuttle protein LLPS is modulated by multivalent interactions among their various domains as well as heterotypic interactions with polyubiquitin chains. Here, the properties of three different shuttle proteins (hHR23B, p62, and UBQLN2) are closely examined, unifying principles for the molecular determinants of their LLPS are identified, and how LLPS is connected to their functions is discussed. Evidence supporting LLPS of other shuttle proteins is also found. In this review, it is proposed that shuttle protein LLPS leads to spatiotemporal regulation of PQC activities by mediating the recruitment of PQC machinery (including proteasomes or autophagic components) to biomolecular condensates, assembly/disassembly of condensates, selective enrichment of client proteins, and extraction of ubiquitinated proteins from condensates in cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2000036
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • autophagy
  • biomolecular condensates
  • liquid-liquid phase separation
  • polyubiquitin
  • proteasomal degradation
  • protein quality control
  • ubiquitin shuttle proteins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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