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Biochemistry. 2000 Feb 15;39(6):1243-50.

Residues in Cdc42 that specify binding to individual CRIB effector proteins.

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Cambridge Centre for Molecular Recognition, Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, UK.


Cdc42 is a member of the Rho family of small G proteins. Signal transduction events emanating from Cdc42 lead to cytoskeletal rearrangements, cell proliferation, and cell differentiation. Many effector proteins have been identified for Cdc42; however, it is not clear how certain effectors specifically recognize and bind to Cdc42, as opposed to Rac or Rho, or in many cases, which effector controls what cellular events. Mutations were introduced into Cdc42 at residues: Met1, Val8, Phe28, Tyr32, Val33, Thr35, Val36, Phe37, Asp38, Tyr40, Val42, Met45, Ile46, Glu127, Ala130, Asn132, Gln134, Lys135, and Leu174. Measurements were made of their equilibrium binding constants to the Cdc42 binding domains of the CRIB effectors ACK, PAK, and WASP and to the GTPase-activating protein Rho GAP. Generally, mutations in the effector loop have an equally deleterious effect on binding to all CRIB proteins tested, though the F37A mutation resulted in significant selectivity. Residues outside the effector loop were found to be important for binding of Cdc42 to CRIB containing proteins and also to contribute to selectivity. Mutations such as V42A and L174A resulted in large, selective changes in binding to specific CRIB effectors. Neither mutation resulted in alteration in PAK binding, whereas both severely disrupt binding to ACK and only L174A disrupted binding to WASP. These mutations are interpreted using the structures of the Cdc42/ACK and Cdc42/WASP complexes to give insight into how effectors can specifically recognize Cdc42. Those mutations in Cdc42 that inhibit certain interactions, while retaining others, should aid investigations of the role of specific effectors in Cdc42 signaling in vivo.

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