The glycine brace: a component of Rab, Rho, and Ran GTPases associated with hinge regions of guanine- and phosphate-binding loops

Neuwald, Andrew F.
January 2009
BMC Structural Biology;2009, Vol. 9, Special section p1
Academic Journal
Background: Ras-like GTPases function as on-off switches in intracellular signalling pathways and include the Rab, Rho/Rac, Ran, Ras, Arf, Sar and Gα families. How these families have evolutionarily diverged from each other at the sequence level provides clues to underlying mechanisms associated with their functional specialization. Results: Bayesian analysis of divergent patterns within a multiple alignment of Ras-like GTPase sequences identifies a structural component, termed here the glycine brace, as the feature that most distinguishes Rab, Rho/Rac, Ran and (to some degree) Ras family GTPases from other Ras-like GTPases. The glycine brace consists of four residues: An aromatic residue that forms a stabilizing CH-π interaction with a conserved glycine at the start of the guanine-binding loop; a second aromatic residue, which is nearly always a tryptophan, that likewise forms stabilizing CH-π and NH-π interactions with a glycine at the start of the phosphate-binding P-loop; and two other residues (typically an aspartate and a serine or threonine) that, together with a conserved buried water molecule, form a network of interactions connecting the two aromatic residues. Conclusion: It is proposed that the two glycine residues function as hinges and that the glycine brace influences guanine nucleotide binding and release by interacting with these hinges.


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