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J Biol Chem. 2003 Feb 14;278(7):4756-62. Epub 2002 Dec 5.

Dissociation of GDP dissociation inhibitor and membrane translocation are required for efficient activation of Rac by the Dbl homology-pleckstrin homology region of Tiam.

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  • 1CNRS, Institut de Pharmacologie Mol├ęculaire et Cellulaire, 660 Route des Lucioles, 06560 Valbonne, France.


Small G proteins of the Rho/Rac/Cdc42 family are associated with lipid membranes through their prenylated C termini. Alternatively, these proteins form soluble complexes with GDI proteins. To assess how this membrane partitioning influences the activation of Rac by guanine nucleotide exchange factors, GDP-to-GTP exchange reactions were performed in the presence of liposomes using different forms of Rac-GDP. We show that both non-prenylated Rac-GDP and the soluble complex between prenylated Rac-GDP and GDI are poorly activated by the Dbl homology-pleckstrin homology (DH-PH) domain of the exchange factor Tiam1, whereas prenylated Rac-GDP bound to liposomes is activated about 10 times more rapidly. Sedimentation experiments with liposomes reveal that the DH-PH region of Tiam1 forms, with nucleotide-free prenylated Rac, a membrane-bound complex from which GDI is excluded. Taken together, these experiments demonstrate that the dissociation of Rac-GDP from GDI and its translocation to membrane lipids favor DH-PH-catalyzed nucleotide exchange because the steric hindrance caused by GDI is relieved and because the membrane environment favors functional interaction between the DH-PH domain and the small G protein.

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