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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2016 Jan;1864(1):42-51. doi: 10.1016/j.bbapap.2015.10.007. Epub 2015 Nov 2.

Guanine nucleotide induced conformational change of Cdc42 revealed by hydrogen/deuterium exchange mass spectrometry.

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Department of Chemistry, Tunghai University, Taichung, Taiwan.
Department of Materials Engineering, National Chung Hsing University, Taichung, Taiwan.
Department of Chemistry, Tunghai University, Taichung, Taiwan; Life Science Research Center, Tunghai University, Taichung, Taiwan. Electronic address:


Cdc42 regulates pathways related to cell division. Dysregulation of Cdc42 can lead to cancer, cardiovascular diseases and neurodegenerative diseases. GTP induced activation mechanism plays an important role in the activity and biological functions of Cdc42. P-loop, Switch I and Switch II are critical regions modulating the enzymatic activity of Cdc42. We applied amide hydrogen/deuterium exchange coupled with liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (HDXMS) to investigate the dynamic changes of apo-Cdc42 after GDP, GTP and GMP-PCP binding. The natural substrate GTP induced significant decreases of deuteration in P-loop and Switch II, moderate changes of deuteration in Switch I and significant changes of deuteration in the α7 helix, a region far away from the active site. GTP binding induced similar effects on H/D exchange to its non-hydrolysable analog, GMP-PCP. HDXMS results indicate that GTP binding blocked the solvent accessibility in the active site leading to the decrease of H/D exchange rate surrounding the active site, and further triggered a conformational change resulting in the drastic decrease of H/D exchange rate at the remote α7 helix. Comparing the deuteration levels in three activation states of apo-Cdc42, Cdc42-GDP and Cdc42-GMP-PCP, the apo-Cdc42 has the most flexible structure, which can be stabilized by guanine nucleotide binding. The rates of H/D exchange of Cdc42-GDP are between the GMP-PCP-bound and the apo form, but more closely to the GMP-PCP-bound form. Our results show that the activation of Cdc42 is a process of conformational changes involved with P-loop, Switch II and α7 helix for structural stabilization.


Cdc42; GTP activation; H/D exchange; HDXMS; Mass spectrometry; Small G-protein

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