Internal dynamics control activation and activity of the autoinhibited Vav DH domain

Pilong Li, Ilídio R S Martins, Gaya K. Amarasinghe, Michael K. Rosen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Protein motions are important to activity, but quantitative relationships between internal dynamics and function are not well understood. The Dbl homology (DH) domain of the proto-oncoprotein and guanine nucleotide exchange factor Vav1 is autoinhibited through interactions between its catalytic surface and a helix from an N-terminal acidic region. Phosphorylation of the helix relieves autoinhibition. Here we show by NMR spectroscopy that the autoinhibited DH domain exists in equilibrium between a ground state, where the active site is blocked by the inhibitory helix, and an excited state, where the helix is dissociated. Across a series of mutants that differentially sample these states, catalytic activity of the autoinhibited protein and its rate of phosphorylation are linearly dependent on the population of the excited state. Thus, internal dynamics are required for and control both basal activity and the rate of full activation of the autoinhibited DH domain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)613-618
Number of pages6
JournalNature Structural and Molecular Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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