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J Biol Chem. 2004 Jul 16;279(29):30507-13. Epub 2004 May 3.

Identification of the region in Cdc42 that confers the binding specificity to activated Cdc42-associated kinase.

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  • 1Weis Center for Research, Geisinger Clinic, Danville, Pennsylvania 17822, USA.


The Rho family small G-protein Cdc42 has been implicated in a diversity of biological functions. Multiple downstream effectors have been identified. How Cdc42 discriminates the interaction with its multiple downstream effectors is not known. Activated Cdc42-associated tyrosine kinase (ACK) is a very specific effector of Cdc42. To delineate the Cdc42 signaling pathway mediated by ACK, we set about to identify the specific ACK-binding region in Cdc42. We utilized TC10, another member of the Rho family of G-proteins that is 66.7% identical to Cdc42, to construct TC10/Cdc42 chimeras for screening the specific ACK-binding region in Cdc42. A region between switch I and switch II has been identified as the specific ACK-binding (AB) region. The replacement of the AB region with the corresponding region in TC10 resulted in the complete loss of ACK-binding ability but did not affect the binding to WASP, suggesting that the AB region confers the binding specificity to ACK. On the other hand, replacement of the corresponding region of TC10 with the AB region enabled TC10 to acquire ACK-binding ability. Eight residues are different between the AB region and the corresponding region of TC10. The mutational analysis indicated that all eight residues contribute to the binding to ACK2. The assays for the Cdc42-mediated activation of ACK2 indicated that the AB region is essential for Cdc42 to activate ACK2 in cells. Thus, our studies have defined a specific ACK-binding region in Cdc42 and have provided a molecular basis for generating ACK binding-defective mutants of Cdc42 to delineate ACK-mediated signaling pathway.

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