Septins form oligomeric complexes consisting of septins from different subgroups, which form filaments that are involved in a number of biological processes. They are GTP-binding proteins that contain all the necessary elements to perform the general GDP-to-GTP conformational switch. It is however unclear whether or not such a switch is important for the dynamics of septin filaments. Here we investigate the complex GTPase reaction of members of each of the four human septin groups, which is dominated by the stability of dimer formation via the nucleotide binding or so-called G-interface. The results also show that the actual hydrolysis reaction is very similar for three septin groups in the monomeric state while the Sept6 has no GTPase activity. Sept7, the only member of the Sept7 subgroup, forms a very tight G-interface dimer in the GDP-bound state. Here we show that the stability of the interface is dramatically decreased by exchanging GDP with a nucleoside triphosphate, which is believed to influence filament formation and dynamics via Sept7.
Since its discovery as an oncogene more than 40 years ago, Ras has been and still is in the focus of many academic and pharmaceutical labs around the world. A huge amount of work has accumulated on its biology. However, many questions about the role of the different Ras isoforms in health and disease still exist and a full understanding will require more intensive work in the future. Here we try to survey some of the structural findings in a historical perspective and how it has influenced our understanding of structure-function and mechanistic relationships of Ras and its interactions. The structures show that Ras is a stable molecular machine that uses the dynamics of its switch regions for the interaction with all regulators and effectors. This conformational flexibility has been used to create small molecule drug candidates against this important oncoprotein.
Septins constitute a family of conserved guanine nucleotide binding proteins found in a wide range of organisms from fungi to mammals. Members of the family share a canonical G-domain with N- and C-terminal extensions. G-domains assemble into hetero-oligomeric complexes which form non-polarised filaments or rings. Linear filaments are formed between the G-domains using either the guanine nucleotide binding site (G interface) or N- and C-terminal extensions (NC interface). Sept7 is a unique among the 13 human septins in that it occupies the ends of hexameric building blocks which assemble into non-polarised filaments. To gain insight into its particular properties we performed structural and biochemical studies on Sept7. We solved the crystal structure of a Sept7 dimer in the GDP-bound state. The structure and biochemistry of Sept7 provide new insights into the dynamics of the G interface and outline the differences in the properties of Sept7 compared to the members of group 2 septins.
Down-regulation of Ras signalling is mediated by specific GTPase-activating proteins (GAPs), which stimulate the very slow GTPase reaction of Ras by 105-fold. The basic features of the GAP activity involve the stabilisation of both switch regions of Ras in the transition state, and the insertion of an arginine finger. In the case of oncogenic Ras mutations, the features of the active site are disturbed. To understand these features in more detail, we investigated the effects of oncogenic mutations of Ras and compared the GAP-stimulated GTPase reaction with the ability to form GAP-mediated aluminium or beryllium fluoride complexes. In general, we found a correlation between the size of the amino acid at position 12, the GTPase activity and ability to form aluminium fluoride complexes. While Gly12 is very sensitive to even the smallest possible structural change, Gly13 is much less sensitive to steric hindrance, but is sensitive to charge. Oncogenic mutants of Ras defective in the GTPase activity can however form ground-state GppNHp complexes with GAP, which can be mimicked by beryllium fluoride binding. We show that beryllium fluoride complexes are less sensitive to structural changes and report on a state close to but different from the ground state of the GAP-stimulated GTPase reaction.
Septins are filament-forming GTPases involved in cytokinesis and cortical organization. In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the septins encoded by CDC3, CDC10, CDC11, and CDC12 form a high-molecular-weight complex, localized at the cytoplasmic face of the plasma membrane in the mother-bud neck. While septin function at the cellular level is fairly well understood, progress on structure-function analysis of these proteins has been slow and limited by the lack of large amounts of pure complex. While monomeric septins form apparently non-native aggregates, stable recombinant complexes of two, three, or four yeast septins can be produced by co-expression from bi-cistronic vectors in E. coli. The septin polypeptides show various degrees of saturation with guanine nucleotides in different complexes. The binary core Cdc3p-Cdc12p complex contains no bound nucleotide. While ternary complexes are partially saturated and can bind extraneously added nucleotide with micromolar affinity, only the complete four-component septin complex is fully coordinated with tightly bound GDP/GTP after chromatographic purification. We show here that the nucleotide-binding sites of the septins show drastic changes on formation of higher oligomers. Although the binary core Cdc3p-Cdc12p complex does not form filaments, the ternary and quaternary complexes form bundles of paired filaments. In the case of ternary complexes, filament formation is stimulated by guanine nucleotide, but is not dependent on the presence or absence of the γ-phosphate.
The inositol polyphosphate 5′-phosphatase E (INPP5E) localizes to cilia. We showed that the carrier protein phosphodiesterase 6 delta subunit (PDE6δ) mediates the sorting of farnesylated INPP5E into cilia due to high affinity binding and release by the ADP-ribosylation factor (Arf)-like protein Arl3·GTP. However, the dynamics of INPP5E transport into and inside the ciliary compartment are not fully understood. Here, we investigate the movement of INPP5E using live cell fluorescence microscopy and fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) analysis. We show that PDE6δ and the dynein transport system are essential for ciliary sorting and entry of INPP5E. However, its innerciliary transport is regulated solely by the intraflagellar transport (IFT) system, independent from PDE6δ activity and INPP5E farnesylation. By contrast, movement of Arl3 into and within cilia occurs freely by diffusion and IFT-independently. The farnesylation defective INPP5E CaaX box mutant loses the exclusive ciliary localization. The accumulation of this mutant at centrioles after photobleaching suggests an affinity trap mechanism for ciliary entry, that in case of the wild type is overcome by the interaction with PDE6δ. Collectively, we postulate a three-step mechanism regulating ciliary localization of INPP5E, consisting of farnesylation- and PDE6δ-mediated targeting, INPP5E-PDE6δ complex diffusion into the cilium with transfer to the IFT system, and retention inside cilia.
Rasal is a modular multi-domain protein of the GTPase-activating protein 1 (GAP1) family; its four known members, GAP1m, Rasal, GAP1IP4BP and Capri, have a Ras GTPase-activating domain (RasGAP). This domain supports the intrinsically slow GTPase activity of Ras by actively participating in the catalytic reaction. In the case of Rasal, GAP1IP4BP and Capri, their remaining domains are responsible for converting the RasGAP domains into dual Ras- and Rap-GAPs, via an incompletely understood mechanism. Although Rap proteins are small GTPase homologues of Ras, their catalytic residues are distinct, which reinforces the importance of determining the structure of full-length GAP1 family proteins. To date, these proteins have not been crystallized, and their size is not adequate for nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) or for high-resolution cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM). Here we present the low resolution structure of full-length Rasal, obtained by negative staining electron microscopy, which allows us to propose a model of its domain topology. These results help to understand the role of the different domains in controlling the dual GAP activity of GAP1 family proteins.