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J Mol Biol. 2008 Mar 28;377(3):889-901. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2008.01.063. Epub 2008 Jan 31.

Recognition of non-canonical peptides by the yeast Fus1p SH3 domain: elucidation of a common mechanism for diverse SH3 domain specificities.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.


The yeast Fus1p SH3 domain binds to peptides containing the consensus motif, R(S/T)(S/T)SL, which is a sharp contrast to most SH3 domains, which bind to PXXP-containing peptides. Here, we have demonstrated that this domain binds to R(S/T)(S/T)SL-containing peptides derived from two putative in vivo binding partners from yeast proteins, Bnr1p and Ste5p, with K(d) values in the low micromolar range. The R(S/T)(S/T)SL consensus motif is necessary, but not sufficient for binding to the Fus1p SH3 domain, as residues lying N-terminal to the consensus motif also play a critical role in the binding reaction. Through mutagenesis studies and comparisons to other SH3 domains, we have discovered that the Fus1p SH3 domain utilizes a portion of the same binding surface as typical SH3 domains. However, the PXXP-binding surface, which plays the predominant role in binding for most SH3 domains, is debilitated in the WT domain by the substitution of unusual residues at three key conserved positions. By replacing these residues, we created a version of the Fus1p SH3 domain that binds to a PXXP-containing peptide with extremely high affinity (K(d)= 40 nM). Based on our data and analysis, we have clearly delineated two distinct surfaces comprising the typical SH3-domain-binding interface and show that one of these surfaces is the primary mediator of almost every "non-canonical" SH3-domain-mediated interaction described in the literature. Within this framework, dramatic alterations in SH3 domain specificity can be simply explained as a modulation of the binding strengths of these two surfaces.

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