The recently identified RNF125 [RING (really interesting new gene) finger protein 125], or TRAC-1 (T-cell RING protein in activation 1), is unique among ubiquitin ligases in being a positive regulator of T-cell activation. In addition, TRAC-1 has been shown to down-modulate HIV replication and to inhibit pathogen-induced cytokine production. However, apart from the presence of an N-terminal C3HC4 (Cys3-His-Cys4) RING domain, the TRAC-1 protein remains uncharacterized. In the present paper, we report novel interactions and modifications for TRAC-1, and elucidate its domain organization. Specifically, we determine that TRAC-1 associates with membranes and is excluded from the nucleus through myristoylation. Our data are further consistent with a crucial role for the C-terminus in TRAC-1 function. In this region, novel domains were recognized through the identification of three closely related proteins: RNF114, RNF138 and RNF166. TRAC-1 and its relatives were found to contain, apart from the RING domain, a C2HC (Cys2-His-Cys)- and two C2H2 (Cys2-His2)-type zinc fingers, as well as a UIM (ubiquitin-interacting motif). The UIM of TRAC-1 binds Lys48-linked polyubiquitin chains and is, together with the RING domain, required for auto-ubiquitination. As a consequence of auto-ubiquitination, the half-life of TRAC-1 is shorter than 30 min. The identification of these novel modifications, interactions, domains and relatives significantly widens the contexts for investigating TRAC-1 activity and regulation.

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