The chaperone-related AAA ATPase Cdc48 (p97/VCP in higher eukaryotes) segregates ubiquitylated proteins for subsequent degradation by the 26S proteasome or for nonproteolytic fates. The specific outcome of Cdc48 activity is controlled by the evolutionary conserved cofactors Ufd2 and Ufd3, which antagonistically regulate the substrates' ubiquitylation states. In contrast to the interaction of Ufd3 and Cdc48, the interaction between the ubiquitin chain elongating enzyme Ufd2 and Cdc48 has not been precisely mapped. Consequently, it is still unknown whether physiological functions of Ufd2 in fact require Cdc48 binding. Here, we show that Ufd2 binds to the C-terminal tail of Cdc48, unlike the human Ufd2 homologue E4B, which interacts with the N domain of p97. The binding sites for Ufd2 and Ufd3 on Cdc48 overlap and depend critically on the conserved residue Y834 but are not identical. Saccharomyces cerevisiae cdc48 mutants altered in residue Y834 or lacking the C-terminal tail are viable and exhibit normal growth. Importantly, however, loss of Ufd2 and Ufd3 binding in these mutants phenocopies defects of Δufd2 and Δufd3 mutants in the ubiquitin fusion degradation (UFD) and Ole1 fatty acid desaturase activation (OLE) pathways. These results indicate that key cellular functions of Ufd2 and Ufd3 in proteasomal protein degradation require their interaction with Cdc48.
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