Structural Insights into the Activation of the RhoA GTPase by the Lbc Oncoprotein [Signal Transduction]

July 3rd, 2014 by Lenoir, M., Sugawara, M., Kaur, J., Ball, L. J., Overduin, M.

The small GTPase RhoA promotes deregulated signalling upon interaction with Lbc, the oncogenic form of A-kinase anchoring protein (AKAP). The onco-Lbc protein is a hyperactive Rho-specific guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF), but its structural mechanism has not been reported, despite its involvement in cardiac hypertrophy and cancer causation. The pleckstrin homology (PH) domain of Lbc is located at the C-terminal end of the protein, and is shown here to specifically recognize activated RhoA rather than lipids. The isolated dbl homology (DH) domain can function as an independent activator with an enhanced activity. However, the DH domain normally does not act as a solitary Lbc interface with RhoA-GDP. Instead it is negatively controlled by the PH domain. In particular the DH helical bundle is coupled to the structurally dependent PH domain through a helical linker, which reduces its activity. Together the two domains form a rigid scaffold in solution, as evidenced by small angle X-ray scattering and 1H,13C,15N-based NMR spectroscopy. The two domains assume a "chair" shape, with its back possessing independent GEF activity, and the PH domain providing a broad seat for RhoA-GTP docking rather than membrane recognition. This provides structural and dynamical insights into how DH and PH domains work together in solution to support regulated RhoA activity. Mutational analysis supports the bifunctional PH domain mediation of DH:RhoA interactions and explains why the tandem domain is required for controlled GEF signaling.