Protein SUMOylation modification and its associations with disease
DISC1 is a multifunctional, intracellular scaffold protein. At the cellular level, DISC1 plays a pivotal role in neural progenitor proliferation, migration, and synaptic maturation. Perturbation of the biological pathways involving DISC1 is known to lead to behavioral changes in rodents, which supports a clinical report of a Scottish pedigree in which the majority of family members with disruption of the DISC1 gene manifest depression, schizophrenia, and related mental conditions. The discrepancy of modest evidence in genetics but strong biological support for the role of DISC1 in mental conditions suggests a working hypothesis that regulation of DISC1 at the protein level, such as posttranslational modification, may play a role in the pathology of mental conditions. In this study, we report the SUMOylation of DISC1. This posttranslational modification occurs on lysine residues where small ubiquitin-related modifier (SUMO) and its homologs are conjugated to a large number of cellular proteins, which in turn regulates their subcellular distribution and protein stability. By using in silico, biochemical, and cell biological approaches, we now demonstrate that human DISC1 is SUMOylated at one specific lysine 643 (K643). We also show that this residue is crucial for proper neural progenitor proliferation in the developing cortex.