, Volume 68, Issue 24, pp 4045-4064
Date: 04 Sep 2011

Emerging roles of the SUMO pathway in development

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Sumoylation is a reversible post-translational modification that targets a variety of proteins mainly within the nucleus, but also in the plasma membrane and cytoplasm of the cell. It controls diverse cellular mechanisms such as subcellular localization, protein–protein interactions, or transcription factor activity. In recent years, the use of several developmental model systems has unraveled many critical functions for the sumoylation system in the early life of diverse species. In particular, detailed analyses of mutant organisms in both the components of the SUMO pathway and their targets have established the importance of the SUMO system in early developmental processes, such as cell division, cell lineage commitment, specification, and/or differentiation. In addition, an increasing number of developmental proteins, including transcription factors and epigenetic regulators, have been identified as sumoylation substrates. Sumoylation acts on these targets through various mechanisms. For example, this modification has been involved in converting a transcription factor from an activator to a repressor or in regulating the localization and/or stability of numerous transcription factors. This review will summarize current information on the function of sumoylation in embryonic development in different species from yeast to mammals.