Bovine (bov) interferon-stimulated gene product 15 (ISG15) is produced in the endometrium in response to conceptus-secreted interferon (IFN)-τ. ISG15 conjugates to endometrial proteins through an enzymatic pathway that is similar to ubiquitinylation. Ubiquitin-activating enzyme 1-like protein (UBE1L) initiates enzymatic conjugation by forming a thioester bond with ISG15, thus preparing it for transfer to the next series of enzymes. The bovUBE1L has not been described. We hypothesized that bovUBE1L was induced by pregnancy and IFN-τ in the endometrium. A 110-kDa protein was purified from bovine endometrial (BEND) cells based on affinity with recombinant (r) glutathione S-transferase (GST)-ISG15. This protein was digested in gel with trypsin. Seven peptides were purified using HPLC, sequenced using liquid chromatography-mass spectroscopy-mass spectroscopy and found to share 43–100% identity with human UBE1L. The full-length bovUBE1L cDNA was isolated from a BEND cell cDNA library, sequenced, and found to share 83% identity with human UBE1L cDNA. Northern blot revealed two mRNAs that were detected in greater (P < 0.05) concentrations in endometrium from Day 17–21 pregnant versus nonpregnant cows. Western blots using antihuman UBE1L antibody revealed a similar pattern of pregnancy-associated expression of UBE1L protein in the uterus. The bovUBE1L mRNA was localized, using in situ hybridization, primarily to glandular and luminal epithelium, with more diffuse localization to stroma of the endometrium from pregnant cows. Because bovUBE1L was purified through its interaction with rGST-ISG15 and shares significant amino acid and cDNA sequence identity with human UBE1L, it is concluded that it mediates conjugation of ISG15 to uterine proteins in response to the developing and attaching conceptus.
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