PJA1, encoding a RING-H2 finger ubiquitin ligase, is a novel human X chromosome gene abundantly expressed in brain.
RING-finger proteins contain cysteine-rich, zinc-binding domains and are involved in the formation of macromolecular scaffolds important for transcriptional repression and ubiquitination. In this study, we have identified a RING-H2 finger gene, PJA1 (for praja-1), from a human brain cDNA library and mapped it to human chromosome Xq12 between markers DXS983 and DXS1216, a region implicated in X-linked mental retardation (MRX). Northern blot analysis indicated a 2.7-kb transcript that was abundantly expressed in the brain, including regions of the cerebellum, cerebral cortex, medulla, occipital pole, frontal lobe, temporal lobe, and putamen. Amino acid sequence analysis of the 71-kDa protein PJA1 showed 52.3% identity to human PJA2 (for praja-2, also known as NEURODAP1/KIAA0438) and also a significant identity to its homologs in rat, mouse, and zebrafish. In vitro binding and immunoprecipitation assays demonstrated that both PJA1 and PJA2 are able to bind the ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme UbcH5B. Moreover, the ubiquitination assay indicated that PJA1 and PJA2 have an E2-dependent E3 ubiquitin ligase activity. Thus our findings demonstrate that PJA1 can be involved in protein ubiquitination in the brain and is a suitable candidate gene for MRX.