Proline cis-trans isomerization controls autoinhibition of a signaling protein

Mol Cell. 2007 Feb 9;25(3):413-26. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2007.01.004.


Autoinhibition is being widely used in nature to repress otherwise constitutive protein activities and is typically regulated by extrinsic factors. Here we show that autoinhibition can be controlled by an intrinsic intramolecular switch afforded by prolyl cis-trans isomerization. We find that a proline on the linker tethering the two SH3 domains of the Crk adaptor protein interconverts between the cis and trans conformation. In the cis conformation, the two SH3 domains interact intramolecularly, thereby forming the basis of an autoinhibitory mechanism. Conversely, in the trans conformation Crk exists in an extended, uninhibited conformation that is marginally populated but serves to activate the protein upon ligand binding. Interconversion between the cis and trans, and, hence, of the autoinhibited and activated conformations, is accelerated by the action of peptidyl-prolyl isomerases. Proline isomerization appears to make an ideal switch that can regulate the kinetics of activation, thereby modulating the dynamics of signal response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Isomerases / physiology
  • Animals
  • Chickens
  • Isomerism
  • Kinetics
  • Ligands
  • Models, Biological
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular
  • Proline / chemistry*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-crk / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-crk / chemistry*
  • Thermodynamics


  • Ligands
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-crk
  • Proline
  • Amino Acid Isomerases