Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Guanine nucleotide exchange factor


A highly crystallizable T4 lysozyme (T4L) was fused to the N-terminus of the β(2) adrenergic receptor (β(2)AR), a G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) for catecholamines. We demonstrate that the N-terminal fused T4L is sufficiently rigid relative to the receptor to facilitate crystallogenesis without thermostabilizing mutations or the use of a stabilizing antibody, G protein, or protein fused to the 3rd intracellular loop. This approach adds to the protein engineering strategies that enable crystallographic studies of GPCRs alone or in complex with a signaling partner.

Concepts: Protein, Signal transduction, Cell membrane, G protein-coupled receptor, Metabotropic glutamate receptor, Guanine nucleotide exchange factor, G protein, Beta-2 adrenergic receptor


Skin aging is linked to reduced epidermal proliferation and general extracellular matrix atrophy. This involves factors such as the cell adhesion receptors integrins and amino acid transporters. CD98hc (SLC3A2), a heterodimeric amino acid transporter, modulates integrin signaling in vitro. We unravel CD98hc functions in vivo in skin. We report that CD98hc invalidation has no appreciable effect on cell adhesion, clearly showing that CD98hc disruption phenocopies neither CD98hc knockdown in cultured keratinocytes nor epidermal β1 integrin loss in vivo. Instead, we show that CD98hc deletion in murine epidermis results in improper skin homeostasis and epidermal wound healing. These defects resemble aged skin alterations and correlate with reduction of CD98hc expression observed in elderly mice. We also demonstrate that CD98hc absence in vivo induces defects as early as integrin-dependent Src activation. We decipher the molecular mechanisms involved in vivo by revealing a crucial role of the CD98hc/integrins/Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) leukemia-associated RhoGEF (LARG)/RhoA pathway in skin homeostasis. Finally, we demonstrate that the deregulation of RhoA activation in the absence of CD98hc is also a result of impaired CD98hc-dependent amino acid transports.

Concepts: DNA, Wound healing, Collagen, Extracellular matrix, Ageing, Guanine nucleotide exchange factor, Integrin, Fibronectin


Abstract Adhesion G protein-coupled receptors (aGPCR) form the second largest class of GPCR. They are phylogenetically old and have been highly conserved during evolution. Mutations in representatives of this class are associated with severe diseases such as Usher Syndrome, a combined congenital deaf-blindness, or bifrontal parietal polymicrogyria. The main characteristics of aGPCR are their enormous size and the complexity of their N termini. They contain a highly conserved GPCR proteolytic site (GPS) and several functional domains that have been implicated in cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions. Adhesion GPCR have been proposed to serve a dual function as adhesion molecules and as classical receptors. However, until recently there was no proof that aGPCR indeed couple to G proteins or even function as classical receptors. In this review, we have summarized and discussed recent evidence that aGPCR present many functional features of classical GPCR including multiple G protein-coupling abilities, G protein independent signaling and oligomerization but also specific signaling properties only found in aGPCR.

Concepts: Protein, Signal transduction, Cell membrane, Membrane biology, G protein-coupled receptor, Metabotropic glutamate receptor, Guanine nucleotide exchange factor, G protein


The consequence of a loss of balance between G-protein activation and deactivation in cancers has been interrogated by studying infrequently occurring mutants of trimeric G-protein α-subunits and GPCRs. Prior studies on members of a newly identified family of non-receptor guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs), GIV/Girdin, Daple, NUCB1 and NUCB2 have revealed that GPCR-independent hyperactivation of trimeric G proteins can fuel metastatic progression in a variety of cancers. Here we report that elevated expression of each GEF in circulating tumor cells (CTCs) isolated from the peripheral circulation of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer is associated with a shorter progression-free survival (PFS). The GEFs were stronger prognostic markers than two other markers of cancer progression, S100A4 and MACC1, and clustering of all GEFs together improved the prognostic accuracy of the individual family members; PFS was significantly lower in the high-GEFs versus the low-GEFs groups [H.R = 5, 20 (95% CI; 2,15-12,57)]. Because nucleotide exchange is the rate-limiting step in cyclical activation of G-proteins, the poor prognosis conferred by these GEFs in CTCs implies that hyperactivation of G-protein signaling by these GEFs is an important event during metastatic progression, and may be more frequently encountered than mutations in G-proteins and/or GPCRs.

Concepts: DNA, Cancer, Oncology, Lung cancer, Colorectal cancer, Tumor, Neoplasm, Guanine nucleotide exchange factor


Cells migrate by directing Ras-related C3 botulinum toxin substrate 1 (Rac1) and cell division control protein 42 (Cdc42) activities and by polymerizing actin toward the leading edge of the cell. Previous studies have proposed that this polarization process requires a local positive feedback in the leading edge involving Rac small GTPase and actin polymerization with PI3K likely playing a coordinating role. Here, we show that the pleckstrin homology and RhoGEF domain containing G3 (PLEKHG3) is a PI3K-regulated Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factor (RhoGEF) for Rac1 and Cdc42 that selectively binds to newly polymerized actin at the leading edge of migrating fibroblasts. Optogenetic inactivation of PLEKHG3 showed that PLEKHG3 is indispensable both for inducing and for maintaining cell polarity. By selectively binding to newly polymerized actin, PLEKHG3 promotes local Rac1/Cdc42 activation to induce more local actin polymerization, which in turn promotes the recruitment of more PLEKHG3 to induce and maintain cell front. Thus, autocatalytic reinforcement of PLEKHG3 localization to the leading edge of the cell provides a molecular basis for the proposed positive feedback loop that is required for cell polarization and directed migration.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Adenosine triphosphate, Control theory, Cybernetics, Feedback, Guanine nucleotide exchange factor, Audio feedback


Eukaryotic cells restrict protein synthesis under various stress conditions, by inhibiting the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2B (eIF2B). eIF2B is the guanine nucleotide exchange factor for eIF2, a heterotrimeric G protein consisting of α-, β- and γ-subunits. eIF2B exchanges GDP for GTP on the γ-subunit of eIF2 (eIF2γ), and is inhibited by stress-induced phosphorylation of eIF2α. eIF2B is a heterodecameric complex of two copies each of the α-, β-, γ-, δ- and ε-subunits; its α-, β- and δ-subunits constitute the regulatory subcomplex, while the γ- and ε-subunits form the catalytic subcomplex. The three-dimensional structure of the entire eIF2B complex has not been determined. Here we present the crystal structure of Schizosaccharomyces pombe eIF2B with an unprecedented subunit arrangement, in which the α2β2δ2 hexameric regulatory subcomplex binds two γε dimeric catalytic subcomplexes on its opposite sides. A structure-based in vitro analysis by a surface-scanning site-directed photo-cross-linking method identified the eIF2α-binding and eIF2γ-binding interfaces, located far apart on the regulatory and catalytic subcomplexes, respectively. The eIF2γ-binding interface is located close to the conserved ‘NF motif’, which is important for nucleotide exchange. A structural model was constructed for the complex of eIF2B with phosphorylated eIF2α, which binds to eIF2B more strongly than the unphosphorylated form. These results indicate that the eIF2α phosphorylation generates the ‘nonproductive’ eIF2-eIF2B complex, which prevents nucleotide exchange on eIF2γ, and thus provide a structural framework for the eIF2B-mediated mechanism of stress-induced translational control.

Concepts: DNA, Gene expression, Signal transduction, Adenosine triphosphate, Ribosome, Protein biosynthesis, Guanine nucleotide exchange factor, Guanosine triphosphate


Chronic pain is a major clinical problem, yet the mechanisms underlying the transition from acute to chronic pain remain poorly understood. In mice, reduced expression of GPCR kinase 2 (GRK2) in nociceptors promotes cAMP signaling to the guanine nucleotide exchange factor EPAC1 and prolongs the PGE2-induced increase in pain sensitivity (hyperalgesia). Here we hypothesized that reduction of GRK2 or increased EPAC1 in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons would promote the transition to chronic pain. We used 2 mouse models of hyperalgesic priming in which the transition from acute to chronic PGE2-induced hyperalgesia occurs. Hyperalgesic priming with carrageenan induced a sustained decrease in nociceptor GRK2, whereas priming with the PKCε agonist ΨεRACK increased DRG EPAC1. When either GRK2 was increased in vivo by viral-based gene transfer or EPAC1 was decreased in vivo, as was the case for mice heterozygous for Epac1 or mice treated with Epac1 antisense oligodeoxynucleotides, chronic PGE2-induced hyperalgesia development was prevented in the 2 priming models. Using the CFA model of chronic inflammatory pain, we found that increasing GRK2 or decreasing EPAC1 inhibited chronic hyperalgesia. Our data suggest that therapies targeted at balancing nociceptor GRK2 and EPAC1 levels have promise for the prevention and treatment of chronic pain.

Concepts: Nervous system, Gene, Adenosine triphosphate, Pain, Nociception, Nociceptor, Guanine nucleotide exchange factor, Hyperalgesia


DOCK proteins are guanine nucleotide exchange factors for Rac and Cdc42 GTPases. DOCK1 is the founding member of the family and acts downstream of integrins via the canonical Crk-p130Cas complex to activate Rac GTPases in numerous contexts. In contrast, DOCK5, which possesses the greatest similarity to DOCK1, remains sparingly studied. Here we establish that DOCK5 has a non-redundant role in regulating motile and invasive capacities of epithelial cells. DOCK1 is constitutively associated with sites of integrin attachment termed focal adhesions (FAs). In contrast, we demonstrate that DOCK5 recruitment to FAs in Hela cells is restricted by GIT2, an established regulator of FA signaling. We determine that GIT2 is targeted to FAs in response to Rho-ROCK signaling and actomyosin contractility. Accordingly, inhibition of ROCK activity or MLC function promotes enrichment of DOCK5 in membrane protrusions and nascent cell-substratum adhesions. We further demonstrate that GIT2 inhibits the interaction of DOCK5 with Crk. Moreover, we show that depletion of GIT2 promotes DOCK5-dependent activation of the Crk-p130Cas signaling cascade to promote Rac1-mediated lamellipodial protrusion and FA turnover. The antagonism between GIT2 and DOCK5 extends to non-transformed MCF10A mammary epithelial cells, with DOCK5 ‘dialing-up’ and GIT2 ‘dialing-down’ invasiveness. Finally, we determine that DOCK5 inhibition attenuates invasion and metastasis of MDA-MB-231 cells and prolongs life span of mice injected with these cells. Collectively, our work identifies DOCK5 as a key regulator of epithelial invasion and metastasis, and demonstrates that suppression of DOCK5 by GIT2 represents a previously unappreciated mechanism for coordination of Rho and Rac GTPases.Oncogene advance online publication, 26 September 2016; doi:10.1038/onc.2016.345.

Concepts: Proteins, Protein, Signal transduction, Cell membrane, Cell biology, Guanine nucleotide exchange factor, Integrin, Vinculin


Although the intracellular trafficking system is integral to most physiologic activities, its role in mediating immune responses to infection has remained elusive. Here, we report that infected bladder epithelial cells (BECs) mobilized the exocyst complex, a powerful exporter of subcellular vesicles, to rapidly expel intracellular bacteria back for clearance. Toll-like receptor (TLR) 4 signals emanating from bacteria-containing vesicles (BCVs) were found to trigger K33-linked polyubiquitination of TRAF3 at Lys168, which was then detected by RalGDS, a guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) that precipitated the assembly of the exocyst complex. Although this distinct modification of TRAF3 served to connect innate immune signaling to the cellular trafficking apparatus, it crucially ensured temporal and spatial accuracy in determining which among the many subcellular vesicles was recognized and selected for expulsion in response to innate immune signaling.

Concepts: Immune system, DNA, Bacteria, Cell membrane, Innate immune system, Infection, Epithelium, Guanine nucleotide exchange factor


Heterotrimeric guanine nucleotide-binding protein (G protein)-coupled receptors (GPCRs) control a wide diversity of cellular responses throughout biology. Each GPCR couples to a distinct array of members of the G protein family to control the specificity and diversity of these responses and ultimately determines the therapeutic efficacy of drugs that target these receptors. In this issue of Science Signaling, Masuho et al. developed an approach to broadly defining these GPCR coupling fingerprints.

Concepts: DNA, Signal transduction, Cell membrane, Membrane biology, G protein-coupled receptor, Metabotropic glutamate receptor, Guanine nucleotide exchange factor, G protein