The process of protein ubiquitination typically consists of three sequential steps to add an ubiquitin (Ub) or Ub chain to a substrate protein, requiring three different enzymes, ubiquitin activating enzyme (E1), ubiquitin conjugating enzyme (E2), and ubiquitin protein ligase (E3). Most E2s possess the classical E2 activity in forming E2-Ub complex through a thioester linkage, in presence of an E1 and Ub. Additionally, some E2s have the ability of catalyzing the formation of free Ub dimer. Such activity indicates an important role of these E2s in ubiquitination pathway. Thus, we developed an in vitro Ub dimer formation assay to determine the activity of certain E2s. Moreover, by using Ub mutants, in which different lysine residues are mutated, the specific linkage of dimer can also be determined.
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