Crystal structure of the plexin A3 intracellular region reveals an autoinhibited conformation through active site sequestration.
ABSTRACT: Plexin cell surface receptors bind to semaphorin ligands and transduce signals for regulating neuronal axon guidance. The intracellular region of plexins is essential for signaling and contains a R-Ras/M-Ras GTPase activating protein (GAP) domain that is divided into two segments by a Rho GTPase-binding domain (RBD). The regulation mechanisms for plexin remain elusive, although it is known that activation requires both binding of semaphorin to the extracellular region and a Rho-family GTPase (Rac1 or Rnd1) to the RBD. Here we report the crystal structure of the plexin A3 intracellular region. The structure shows that the N- and C-terminal portions of the GAP homologous regions together form a GAP domain with an overall fold similar to other Ras GAPs. However, the plexin GAP domain adopts a closed conformation and cannot accommodate R-Ras/M-Ras in its substrate-binding site, providing a structural basis for the autoinhibited state of plexins. A comparison with the plexin B1 RBD/Rnd1 complex structure suggests that Rnd1 binding alone does not induce a conformational change in plexin, explaining the requirement of both semaphorin and a Rho GTPase for activation. The structure also identifies an N-terminal segment that is important for regulation. Both the N-terminal segment and the RBD make extensive interactions with the GAP domain, suggesting the presence of an allosteric network connecting these three domains that integrates semaphorin and Rho GTPase signals to activate the GAP. The importance of these interactions in plexin signaling is shown by both cell-based and in vivo axon guidance assays.
Project description:Plexins are cell surface receptors that bind to semaphorins and transduce signals that regulate neuronal development, immune responses, and other processes. Signaling through plexins has been proposed to rely on specific guanosine triphosphatase (GTPase)-activating protein (GAP) activity for R-Ras and M-Ras. Activation of this GAP activity of plexins appears to require simultaneous binding of semaphorin to the plexin extracellular domain and of the Rho GTPases Rac1 or Rnd1 to the cytoplasmic region. However, GAP activity of plexins has eluded detection in several recent studies. We show that the purified cytoplasmic region of plexin uses a noncanonical catalytic mechanism to act as a GAP for Rap, but not for R-Ras or M-Ras. The RapGAP activity of plexins was autoinhibited and was activated by induced dimerization. Biochemical and crystallographic analyses demonstrated that binding of Rho GTPases did not directly contribute to activation of plexin RapGAP activity. Semaphorin stimulated the RapGAP activity of full-length plexin in cells, which was required for plexin-mediated neuronal growth cone collapse. Together, these findings define a pathway for plexin signaling and provide insights into the mechanism for semaphorin-induced activation of plexins.
Project description:Plexins are semaphorin receptors that play essential roles in mammalian neuronal axon guidance and in many other important mammalian biological processes. Plexin signaling depends on a semaphorin-induced dimerization mechanism and is modulated by small GTPases of the Rho family, of which RND1 serves as a plexin activator yet its close homolog RhoD an inhibitor. Using molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, we showed that RND1 reinforces the plexin dimerization interface, whereas RhoD destabilizes it due to their differential interaction with the cell membrane. Upon binding plexin at the Rho-GTPase-binding domain (RBD), RND1 and RhoD interact differently with the inner leaflet of the cell membrane and exert opposite effects on the dimerization interface via an allosteric network involving the RBD, RBD linkers, and a buttress segment adjacent to the dimerization interface. The differential membrane interaction is attributed to the fact that, unlike RND1, RhoD features a short C-terminal tail and a positively charged membrane interface.
Project description:Plexin receptors function in response to semaphorin guidance cues in a variety of developmental processes involving cell motility. Interactions with Rho, as well as Ras family small GTPases are critical events in the cell signaling mechanism. We have recently determined the structure of a cytoplasmic domain (RBD) of plexin-B1 and mapped its binding interface with several Rho-GTPases, Rac1, Rnd1, and RhoD. All three GTPases associate with a similar region of this plexin domain, but show different functional behavior in cells. To understand whether thermodynamic properties of the GTPase-RBD interaction contribute to such different behavior, we have examined the interaction at different temperatures, buffer, and pH conditions. Although the binding affinity of both Rnd1 and Rac1 with the plexin-B1 RBD is similar, the detailed thermodynamic properties of the interactions are considerably different. These data suggest that on Rac1 binding to the plexin-B1 RBD, the proteins become more rigid in the complex. By contrast, Rnd1 binding is consistent with unchanged or slightly increased flexibility in one or both proteins. Both GTPases show an appreciable reduction in affinity for the dimeric plexin-B1 RBD indicating that GTPase binding is not cooperative with dimer formation, but that a partial steric hindrance destabilizes the dimer. However, a reduced affinity binding mode to a disulphide stabilized model for the dimeric RBD is also possible. Consistent with cellular studies, the interaction thermodynamics imply that further levels of regulation involving additional binding partners and/or regions outside of the RhoGTPase binding domain are required for receptor activation.
Project description:Members of the plexin family are unique transmembrane receptors in that they interact directly with Rho family small GTPases; moreover, they contain a GTPase-activating protein (GAP) domain for R-Ras, which is crucial for plexin-mediated regulation of cell motility. However, the functional role and structural basis of the interactions between the different intracellular domains of plexins remained unclear. Here we present the 2.4 A crystal structure of the complete intracellular region of human plexin-B1. The structure is monomeric and reveals that the GAP domain is folded into one structure from two segments, separated by the Rho GTPase binding domain (RBD). The RBD is not dimerized, as observed previously. Instead, binding of a conserved loop region appears to compete with dimerization and anchors the RBD to the GAP domain. Cell-based assays on mutant proteins confirm the functional importance of this coupling loop. Molecular modeling based on structural homology to p120(GAP).H-Ras suggests that Ras GTPases can bind to the plexin GAP region. Experimentally, we show that the monomeric intracellular plexin-B1 binds R-Ras but not H-Ras. These findings suggest that the monomeric form of the intracellular region is primed for GAP activity and extend a model for plexin activation.
Project description:The Rnd family of proteins, Rnd1, Rnd2 and Rnd3, are atypical Rho family GTPases, which bind to but do not hydrolyse GTP. They interact with plexins, which are receptors for semaphorins, and are hypothesised to regulate plexin signalling. We recently showed that each Rnd protein has a distinct profile of interaction with three plexins, Plexin-B1, Plexin-B2 and Plexin-B3, in mammalian cells, although it is unclear which region(s) of these plexins contribute to this specificity. Here we characterise the binary interactions of the Rnd proteins with the Rho-binding domain (RBD) of Plexin-B1 and Plexin-B2 using biophysical approaches. Isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) experiments for each of the Rnd proteins with Plexin-B1-RBD and Plexin-B2-RBD showed similar association constants for all six interactions, although Rnd1 displayed a small preference for Plexin-B1-RBD and Rnd3 for Plexin-B2-RBD. Furthermore, mutagenic analysis of Rnd3 suggested similarities in its interaction with both Plexin-B1-RBD and Plexin-B2-RBD. These results suggest that Rnd proteins do not have a clear-cut specificity for different Plexin-B-RBDs, possibly implying the contribution of additional regions of Plexin-B proteins in conferring functional substrate selection.
Project description:Rnd proteins are atypical members of the Rho GTPase family that induce actin cytoskeletal reorganization and cell rounding. Rnd proteins have been reported to bind to the intracellular domain of several plexin receptors, but whether plexins contribute to the Rnd-induced rounding response is not known. Here we show that Rnd3 interacts preferentially with plexin-B2 of the three plexin-B proteins, whereas Rnd2 interacts with all three B-type plexins, and Rnd1 shows only very weak interaction with plexin-B proteins in immunoprecipitations. Plexin-B1 has been reported to act as a GAP for R-Ras and/or Rap1 proteins. We show that all three plexin-B proteins interact with R-Ras and Rap1, but Rnd proteins do not alter this interaction or R-Ras or Rap1 activity. We demonstrate that plexin-B2 promotes Rnd3-induced cell rounding and loss of stress fibres, and enhances the inhibition of HeLa cell invasion by Rnd3. We identify the amino acids in Rnd3 that are required for plexin-B2 interaction, and show that mutation of these amino acids prevents Rnd3-induced morphological changes. These results indicate that plexin-B2 is a downstream target for Rnd3, which contributes to its cellular function.
Project description:Mammalian plexins constitute a family of transmembrane receptors for semaphorins and represent critical regulators of various processes during development of the nervous, cardiovascular, skeletal, and renal system. In vitro studies have shown that plexins exert their effects via an intracellular R-Ras/M-Ras GTPase-activating protein (GAP) domain or by activation of RhoA through interaction with Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factor proteins. However, which of these signaling pathways are relevant for plexin functions in vivo is largely unknown. Using an allelic series of transgenic mice, we show that the GAP domain of plexins constitutes their key signaling module during development. Mice in which endogenous Plexin-B2 or Plexin-D1 is replaced by transgenic versions harboring mutations in the GAP domain recapitulate the phenotypes of the respective null mutants in the developing nervous, vascular, and skeletal system. We further provide genetic evidence that, unexpectedly, the GAP domain-mediated developmental functions of plexins are not brought about via R-Ras and M-Ras inactivation. In contrast to the GAP domain mutants, Plexin-B2 transgenic mice defective in Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factor binding are viable and fertile but exhibit abnormal development of the liver vasculature. Our genetic analyses uncover the in vivo context-dependence and functional specificity of individual plexin-mediated signaling pathways during development.
Project description:Plexin receptors regulate cell adhesion, migration, and guidance. The Rho GTPase binding domain (RBD) of plexin-A1 and -B1 can bind GTPases, including Rnd1. By contrast, plexin-C1 and -D1 reportedly bind Rnd2 but associate with Rnd1 only weakly. The structural basis of this differential Rnd1 GTPase binding to plexin RBDs remains unclear. Here, we solved the structure of the plexin-A2 RBD in complex with Rnd1 and the structures of the plexin-C1 and plexin-D1 RBDs alone, also compared with the previously determined plexin-B1 RBD.Rnd1 complex structure. The plexin-A2 RBD·Rnd1 complex is a heterodimer, whereas plexin-B1 and -A2 RBDs homodimerize at high concentration in solution, consistent with a proposed model for plexin activation. Plexin-C1 and -D1 RBDs are monomeric, consistent with major residue changes in the homodimerization loop. In plexin-A2 and -B1, the RBD ?3-?4 loop adjusts its conformation to allow Rnd1 binding, whereas minimal structural changes occur in Rnd1. The plexin-C1 and -D1 RBDs lack several key non-polar residues at the corresponding GTPase binding surface and do not significantly interact with Rnd1. Isothermal titration calorimetry measurements on plexin-C1 and -D1 mutants reveal that the introduction of non-polar residues in this loop generates affinity for Rnd1. Structure and sequence comparisons suggest a similar mode of Rnd1 binding to the RBDs, whereas mutagenesis suggests that the interface with the highly homologous Rnd2 GTPase is different in detail. Our results confirm, from a structural perspective, that Rnd1 does not play a role in the activation of plexin-C1 and -D1. Plexin functions appear to be regulated by subfamily-specific mechanisms, some of which involve different Rho family GTPases.
Project description:Plexins are cell surface receptors for the semaphorin family of cell guidance cues. The cytoplasmic region comprises a Ras GTPase-activating protein (GAP) domain and a RhoGTPase binding domain. Concomitant binding of extracellular semaphorin and intracellular RhoGTPase triggers GAP activity and signal transduction. The mechanism of this intricate regulation remains elusive. We present two crystal structures of the human Plexin-B1 cytoplasmic region in complex with a constitutively active RhoGTPase, Rac1. The structure of truncated Plexin-B1-Rac1 complex provides no mechanism for coupling RhoGTPase and Ras binding sites. On inclusion of the juxtamembrane helix, a trimeric structure of Plexin-B1-Rac1 complexes is stabilised by a second, novel, RhoGTPase binding site adjacent to the Ras site. Site-directed mutagenesis combined with cellular and biophysical assays demonstrate that this new binding site is essential for signalling. Our findings are consistent with a model in which extracellular and intracellular plexin clustering events combine into a single signalling output.
Project description:The biochemical means through which multiple signaling pathways are integrated in navigating axons is poorly understood. Semaphorins are among the largest families of axon guidance cues and utilize Plexin (Plex) receptors to exert repulsive effects on axon extension. However, Semaphorin repulsion can be silenced by other distinct cues and signaling cascades, raising questions of the logic underlying these events. We now uncover a simple biochemical switch that controls Semaphorin/Plexin repulsive guidance. Plexins are Ras/Rap family GTPase activating proteins (GAPs) and we find that the PlexA GAP domain is phosphorylated by the cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA). This PlexA phosphorylation generates a specific binding site for 14-3-3?, a phospho-binding protein that we find to be necessary for axon guidance. These PKA-mediated Plexin-14-3-3? interactions prevent PlexA from interacting with its Ras family GTPase substrate and antagonize Semaphorin repulsion. Our results indicate that these interactions switch repulsion to adhesion and identify a point of convergence for multiple guidance molecules.