DDB1 functions as a linker to recruit receptor WD40 proteins to CUL4-ROC1 ubiquitin ligases.
Cullins assemble the largest family of ubiquitin ligases by binding with ROC1 and various substrate receptors. CUL4 function is linked with many cellular processes, but its substrate-recruiting mechanism remains elusive. We identified a protein motif, the DWD box (DDB1-binding WD40 protein), and demonstrated the binding of 15 DWD proteins with DDB1-CUL4A. We provide evidence supporting the critical function of the DWD box and DDB1's role as the linker mediating DWD protein association with CUL4A. A database search predicts that about one-third of WD40 proteins, 90 in humans, contain the DWD box, suggesting a potentially large number of DWD-DDB1-CUL4-ROC1 E3 ligases.