Mammalian development demands precision. Millions of molecules must be properly located in temporal order, and their function regulated, to orchestrate important steps in cell cycle progression, apoptosis, migration and differentiation, to shape developing embryos. Ubiquitin and its associated enzymes act as cellular guardians to ensure precise spatio-temporal control of key molecules during each of these important cellular processes. Loss of precision results in numerous examples of embryological disorders or even cancer. This Review discusses the crucial roles of E3 ubiquitin ligases during key steps of early mammalian development and their roles in human disease, and considers how new methods to manipulate and exploit the ubiquitin regulatory machinery - for example, the development of molecular glues and PROTACs - might facilitate clinical therapy.
Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol