SUMOylation is a post-translational modification that affects a large number of proteins, many of which are nuclear. While the role of SUMOylation is beginning to be elucidated, it is clear that understanding the mechanisms that regulate the process is likely to be important. Control of the levels of SUMOylation is brought about through a balance of conjugating and deconjugating activities, i.e. of SUMO (small ubiquitin-related modifier) conjugators and ligases versus SUMO proteases. Although conjugation of SUMO to proteins can occur in the absence of a SUMO ligase, it is apparent that SUMO ligases facilitate the SUMOylation of specific subsets of proteins. Two SUMO ligases in Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Pli1 and Nse2, have been identified, both of which have roles in genome stability. We report here on a comparison between the properties of the two proteins and discuss potential roles for the proteins.

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