Coordinate regulation of G protein signaling via dynamic interactions of receptor and GAP

Marc Turcotte, Wei Tang, Elliott M. Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Signal output from receptor-G-protein-effector modules is a dynamic function of the nucleotide exchange activity of the receptor, the GTPase-accelerating activity of GTPase-activating proteins (GAPs), and their interactions. GAPs may inhibit steady-state signaling but may also accelerate deactivation upon removal of stimulus without significantly inhibiting output when the receptor is active. Further, some effectors (e.g., phospholipase C-β) are themselves GAPs, and it is unclear how such effectors can be stimulated by G proteins at the same time as they accelerate G protein deactivation. The multiple combinations of protein-protein associations and interacting regulatory effects that allow such complex behaviors in this system do not permit the usual simplifying assumptions of traditional enzyme kinetics and are uniquely subject to systems-level analysis. We developed a kinetic model for G protein signaling that permits analysis of both interactive and independent G protein binding and regulation by receptor and GAP. We evaluated parameters of the model (all forward and reverse rate constants) by global least-squares fitting to a diverse set of steady-state GTPase measurements in an m1 muscarinic receptor-Gq-phospholipase C-β1 module in which GTPase activities were varied by ∼104-fold. We provide multiple tests to validate the fitted parameter set, which is consistent with results from the few previous pre-steady-state kinetic measurements. Results indicate that (1) GAP potentiates the GDP/GTP exchange activity of the receptor, an activity never before reported; (2) exchange activity of the receptor is biased toward replacement of GDP by GTP; (3) receptor and GAP bind G protein with negative cooperativity when G protein is bound to either GTP or GDP, promoting rapid GAP binding and dissociation; (4) GAP indirectly stabilizes the continuous binding of receptor to G protein during steady-state GTPase hydrolysis, thus further enhancing receptor activity; and (5) receptor accelerates GDP/GTP exchange primarily by opening an otherwise closed nucleotide binding site on the G protein but has minimal effect on affinity (Kassoc = k assoc/kdissoc) of G protein for nucleotide. Model-based simulation explains how GAP activity can accelerate deactivation >10-fold upon removal of agonist but still allow high signal output while the receptor is active. Analysis of GTPase flux through distinct reaction pathways and consequent accumulation of specific GTPase cycle intermediates indicate that, in the presence of a GAP, the receptor remains bound to G protein throughout the GTPase cycle and that GAP binds primarily during the GTP-bound phase. The analysis explains these behaviors and relates them to the specific regulatory phenomena described above. The work also demonstrates the applicability of appropriately data-constrained system-level analysis to signaling networks of this scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1000148
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Ecology
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Modeling and Simulation


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