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Biochemistry. 2009 May 19;48(19):4074-85. doi: 10.1021/bi802291y.

SH3 domains of Grb2 adaptor bind to PXpsiPXR motifs within the Sos1 nucleotide exchange factor in a discriminate manner.

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Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and the UM/Sylvester Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute, Leonard Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, Florida 33136, USA.


Ubiquitously encountered in a wide variety of cellular processes, the Grb2-Sos1 interaction is mediated through the combinatorial binding of nSH3 and cSH3 domains of Grb2 to various sites containing PXpsiPXR motifs within Sos1. Here, using isothermal titration calorimetry, we demonstrate that while the nSH3 domain binds with affinities in the physiological range to all four sites containing PXpsiPXR motifs, designated S1, S2, S3, and S4, the cSH3 domain can only do so at the S1 site. Further scrutiny of these sites yields rationale for the recognition of various PXpsiPXR motifs by the SH3 domains in a discriminate manner. Unlike the PXpsiPXR motifs at S2, S3, and S4 sites, the PXpsiPXR motif at the S1 site is flanked at its C-terminus with two additional arginine residues that are absolutely required for high-affinity binding of the cSH3 domain. In striking contrast, these two additional arginine residues augment the binding of the nSH3 domain to the S1 site, but their role is not critical for the recognition of S2, S3, and S4 sites. Site-directed mutagenesis suggests that the two additional arginine residues flanking the PXpsiPXR motif at the S1 site contribute to free energy of binding via the formation of salt bridges with specific acidic residues in SH3 domains. Molecular modeling is employed to project these novel findings into the 3D structures of SH3 domains in complex with a peptide containing the PXpsiPXR motif and flanking arginine residues at the S1 site. Taken together, this study furthers our understanding of the assembly of a key signaling complex central to cellular machinery.

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