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Biochemistry. 2011 Nov 15;50(45):9845-56. doi: 10.1021/bi2011306. Epub 2011 Oct 19.

The GRP1 PH domain, like the AKT1 PH domain, possesses a sentry glutamate residue essential for specific targeting to plasma membrane PI(3,4,5)P(3).

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Program, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309-0215, United States.


During the appearance of the signaling lipid PI(3,4,5)P(3), an important subset of pleckstrin homology (PH) domains target signaling proteins to the plasma membrane. To ensure proper pathway regulation, such PI(3,4,5)P(3)-specific PH domains must exclude the more prevalant, constitutive plasma membrane lipid PI(4,5)P(2) and bind the rare PI(3,4,5)P(3) target lipid with sufficiently high affinity. Our previous study of the E17K mutant of the protein kinase B (AKT1) PH domain, together with evidence from Carpten et al. [Carpten, J. D., et al. (2007) Nature 448, 439-444], revealed that the native AKT1 E17 residue serves as a sentry glutamate that excludes PI(4,5)P(2), thereby playing an essential role in specific PI(3,4,5)P(3) targeting [Landgraf, K. E., et al. (2008) Biochemistry 47, 12260-12269]. The sentry glutamate hypothesis proposes that an analogous sentry glutamate residue is a widespread feature of PI(3,4,5)P(3)-specific PH domains, and that charge reversal mutation at the sentry glutamate position will yield both increased PI(4,5)P(2) affinity and constitutive plasma membrane targeting. To test this hypothesis, we investigated the E345 residue, a putative sentry glutamate, of the general receptor for phosphoinositides 1 (GRP1) PH domain. The results show that incorporation of the E345K charge reversal mutation into the GRP1 PH domain enhances PI(4,5)P(2) affinity 8-fold and yields constitutive plasma membrane targeting in cells, reminiscent of the effects of the E17K mutation in the AKT1 PH domain. Hydrolysis of plasma membrane PI(4,5)P(2) releases the E345K GRP1 PH domain into the cytoplasm, and the efficiency of this release increases when Arf6 binding is disrupted. Overall, the findings provide strong support for the sentry glutamate hypothesis and suggest that the GRP1 E345K mutation will be linked to changes in cell physiology and human pathologies, as demonstrated for AKT1 E17K [Carpten, J. D., et al. (2007) Nature 448, 439-444; Lindhurst, M. J., et al. (2011) N. Engl. J. Med. 365, 611-619]. Analysis of available PH domain structures suggests that a lone glutamate residue (or, in some cases, an aspartate) is a common, perhaps ubiquitous, feature of PI(3,4,5)P(3)-specific binding pockets that functions to lower PI(4,5)P(2) affinity.

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