ESCRTs (endosomal sorting complexes required for transport) bind and sequester ubiquitinated membrane proteins and usher them into multivesicular bodies (MVBs). As Ubiquitin (Ub)-binding proteins, ESCRTs themselves become ubiquitinated. However, it is unclear whether this regulates a critical aspect of their function or is a nonspecific consequence of their association with the Ub system. We investigated whether ubiquitination of the ESCRTs was required for their ability to sort cargo into the MVB lumen. Although we found that Rsp5 was the main Ub ligase responsible for ubiquitination of ESCRT-0, elimination of Rsp5 or elimination of the ubiquitinatable lysines within ESCRT-0 did not affect MVB sorting. Moreover, by fusing the catalytic domain of deubiquitinating peptidases onto ESCRTs, we could block ESCRT ubiquitination and the sorting of proteins that undergo Rsp5-dependent ubiquitination. Yet, proteins fused to a single Ub moiety were efficiently delivered to the MVB lumen, which strongly indicates that a single Ub is sufficient in sorting MVBs in the absence of ESCRT ubiquitination.
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