Ubx2 links the Cdc48 complex to ER-associated protein degradation.
Endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-associated protein degradation requires the dislocation of selected substrates from the ER to the cytosol for proteolysis via the ubiquitin-proteasome system. The AAA ATPase Cdc48 (known as p97 or VCP in mammals) has a crucial, but poorly understood role in this transport step. Here, we show that Ubx2 (Sel1) mediates interaction of the Cdc48 complex with the ER membrane-bound ubiquitin ligases Hrd1 (Der3) and Doa10. The membrane protein Ubx2 contains a UBX domain that interacts with Cdc48 and an additional UBA domain. Absence of Ubx2 abrogates breakdown of ER proteins but also that of a cytosolic protein, which is ubiquitinated by Doa10. Intriguingly, our results suggest that recruitment of Cdc48 by Ubx2 is essential for turnover of both ER and non-ER substrates, whereas the UBA domain of Ubx2 is specifically required for ER proteins only. Thus, a complex comprising the AAA ATPase, a ubiquitin ligase and the recruitment factor Ubx2 has a central role in ER-associated proteolysis.