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Rice UBC13, a candidate housekeeping gene, is required for K63-linked polyubiquitination and tolerance to DNA damage

Abstract

While plant growth and reproduction is dependent on sunlight, UV irradiation from sunlight is one of the major genotoxic stresses that threaten plant survival and genome stability. In addition, many environmental chemicals can also damage the plant genome. In yeast and mammalian cells protection against the above genome instability is provided by an error-free DNA-damage tolerance (DDT) pathway, which is dependent on Ubc13-mediated K63-linked polyubiquitination of the proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA). In this study, we isolated the UBC13 gene from rice and characterized its functions. Expression of OsUBC13 can protect a yeast ubc13 null mutant against spontaneous and environmental DNA damage. Furthermore, OsUbc13 physically interacts with human Ubc13 partners Mms2 and Uev1A, and catalyzes K63 polyubiquitination in vitro. These observations collectively suggest that the K63 polyubiquitination is conserved in rice, and that OsUBC13 may be involved in DDT and other cellular processes. In addition, OsUBC13 is constitutively expressed at a high level even under various stress conditions, suggesting that it is a housekeeping gene.