Highly homologous HERC proteins localize to endosomes and exhibit specific interactions with hPLIC and Nm23B.
Small HERC proteins are defined by the presence of one RCC1-like domain and a HECT domain. Having evolved out of one common ancestor, the four members of the family exhibit a high degree of homology in genomic organization and amino acid sequence, thus it seems possible that they might accomplish similar functions. Here we show that small HERC proteins interact with each other and localize to the same cellular structures, which we identify as late endosomes and lysosomes. We demonstrate interaction of HERC3 with the ubiquitin-like proteins hPLIC-1 and hPLIC-2 and we establish interaction of HERC5 with the metastasis suppressor Nm23B. While hPLIC proteins are not ubiquitinated by HERC3, HERC5 plays an important role in ubiquitination of Nm23B. In summary, although small HERC proteins are highly homologous showing the same subcellular distribution, they undergo different molecular interactions.