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E3 ubiquitin ligases that direct substrate proteins to the ubiquitin-proteasome system are promising, though largely unexplored drug targets both because of their function and their remarkable specificity. CRLs [Cullin-RING (really interesting new gene) ligases] are the largest group of E3 ligases and function as modular multisubunit complexes constructed around a Cullin-family scaffold protein. The Cul3-based CRLs uniquely assemble with BTB (broad complex/tramtrack/bric-à-brac) proteins that also homodimerize and perform the role of both the Cullin adapter and the substrate-recognition component of the E3. The most prominent member is the BTB-BACK (BTB and C-terminal Kelch)-Kelch protein KEAP1 (Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1), a master regulator of the oxidative stress response and a potential drug target for common conditions such as diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Structural characterization of BTB-Cul3 complexes has revealed a number of critical assembly mechanisms, including the binding of an N-terminal Cullin extension to a bihelical '3-box' at the C-terminus of the BTB domain. Improved understanding of the structure of these complexes should contribute significantly to the effort to develop novel therapeutics targeted to CRL3-regulated pathways.

Original publication




Journal article


Biochem Soc Trans

Publication Date





103 - 107


Cullin Proteins, Drug Design, Humans, Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins, Kelch-Like ECH-Associated Protein 1, Molecular Targeted Therapy, Multiprotein Complexes, Protein Structure, Quaternary, Protein Structure, Secondary, Protein Structure, Tertiary, Ubiquitination