The US11 gene product of human cytomegalovirus promotes viral immune evasion by hijacking the endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-associated degradation (ERAD) pathway. US11 initiates dislocation of newly translocated MHC I from the ER to the cytosol for proteasome-mediated degradation. Despite the critical role for ubiquitin in this degradation pathway, the responsible E3 ligase is unknown. In a forward genetic screen for host ERAD components hijacked by US11 in near-haploid KBM7 cells, we identified TMEM129, an uncharacterized polytopic membrane protein. TMEM129 is essential and rate-limiting for US11-mediated MHC-I degradation and acts as a novel ER resident E3 ubiquitin ligase. TMEM129 contains an unusual cysteine-only RING with intrinsic E3 ligase activity and is recruited to US11 via Derlin-1. Together with its E2 conjugase Ube2J2, TMEM129 is responsible for the ubiquitination, dislocation, and subsequent degradation of US11-associated MHC-I. US11 engages two degradation pathways: a Derlin-1/TMEM129-dependent pathway required for MHC-I degradation and a SEL1L/HRD1-dependent pathway required for "free" US11 degradation. Our data show that TMEM129 is a novel ERAD E3 ligase and the central component of a novel mammalian ERAD complex.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2014, Vol 111, Issue 31