Mechanistic studies of how protein ubiquitylation regulates the cell cycle, in particular during mitosis, has provided unique insights which have contributed to the emergence of the Ubiquitin code. In contrast to RING E3 ubiquitin ligases such as the APC/c ligase complex, the contribution of other E3 ligase families during cell cycle progression remains less well understood. Similarly, the contribution of ubiquitin chain types beyond homotypic K48 chains in S-phase or branched K11/K48 chains assembled by APC/c during mitosis, also remains to be fully determined. Our recent findings that HECTD1 ubiquitin ligase activity assembles branched K29/K48 ubiquitin linkages prompted us to evaluate its function during the cell cycle. We used transient knockdown and genetic knockout to show that HECTD1 depletion in HEK293T and HeLa cells decreases cell proliferation and we established that this is mediated through loss of its ubiquitin ligase activity. Interestingly, we found that HECTD1 depletion increases the proportion of cells with aligned chromosomes (Prometa/Metaphase). We confirmed this molecularly using phospho-Histone H3 (Ser28) as a marker of mitosis. Time-lapse microscopy of NEBD to anaphase onset established that HECTD1-depleted cells take on average longer to go through mitosis. To explore the mechanisms involved, we used proteomics to explore the endogenous HECTD1 interactome in mitosis and validated the Mitosis Checkpoint Complex protein BUB3 as a novel HECTD1 interactor. In line with this, we found that HECTD1 depletion reduces the activity of the Spindle Assembly Checkpoint. Overall, our data suggests a novel role for HECTD1 ubiquitin ligase activity in mitosis.

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