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Biophys J. 2008 Aug;95(4):1704-15. doi: 10.1529/biophysj.107.127290. Epub 2008 May 23.

Cofactor dependent conformational switching of GTPases.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Molecular Biology Program, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.


This theoretical work covers structural and biochemical aspects of nucleotide binding and GDP/GTP exchange of GTP hydrolases belonging to the family of small GTPases. Current models of GDP/GTP exchange regulation are often based on two specific assumptions. The first is that the conformation of a GTPase is switched by the exchange of the bound nucleotide from GDP to GTP or vice versa. The second is that GDP/GTP exchange is regulated by a guanine nucleotide exchange factor, which stabilizes a GTPase conformation with low nucleotide affinity. Since, however, recent biochemical and structural data seem to contradict this view, we present a generalized scheme for GTPase action. This novel ansatz accounts for those important cases when conformational switching in addition to guanine nucleotide exchange requires the presence of cofactors, and gives a more nuanced picture of how the nucleotide exchange is regulated. The scheme is also used to discuss some problems of interpretation that may arise when guanine nucleotide exchange mechanisms are inferred from experiments with analogs of GTP, like GDPNP, GDPCP, and GDP gamma S.

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