Ligand-induced ubiquitination of the epidermal growth factor receptor involves the interaction of the c-Cbl RING finger and UbcH7.
c-Cbl plays a negative regulatory role in tyrosine kinase signaling by an as yet undefined mechanism. We demonstrate here, using the yeast two-hybrid system and an in vitro binding assay, that the c-Cbl RING finger domain interacts with UbcH7, a ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme (E2). UbcH7 interacted with the wild-type c-Cbl RING finger domain but not with a RING finger domain that lacks the amino acids that are deleted in 70Z-Cbl, an oncogenic mutant of c-Cbl. The in vitro interaction was enhanced by sequences on both the N- and C-terminal sides of the RING finger. In vivo and in vitro experiments revealed that c-Cbl and UbcH7 synergistically promote the ligand-induced ubiquitination of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). In contrast, 70Z-Cbl markedly reduced the ligand-induced, UbcH7-mediated ubiquitination of the EGFR. MG132, a proteasome inhibitor, significantly prolonged the ligand-induced phosphorylation of both the EGFR and c-Cbl. Thus, c-Cbl plays an essential role in the ligand-induced ubiquitination of the EGFR by a mechanism that involves an interaction of the RING finger domain with UbcH7. This mechanism participates in the down-regulation of tyrosine kinase receptors and loss of this function, as occurs in the naturally occurring 70Z-Cbl isoform, probably contributes to oncogenic transformation.