Prenylation and membrane localization of Cdc42 are essential for activation by DOCK7

Biochemistry. 2013 Jun 25;52(25):4354-63. doi: 10.1021/bi301688g. Epub 2013 Jun 14.


The unconventional guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) family comprising 11 DOCK180 related proteins is classified into four subfamilies, A through D, based on their relative GEF activity toward the closely related Rac and Cdc42 GTPases. DOCK proteins participate in the remodeling of the actin cytoskeleton and are key regulators of cell motility, phagocytosis, and adhesion. Here we show that the guanine nucleotide exchange domain of DOCK7, DHR2 (for DOCK homology region 2), is a potent GEF for prenylated Cdc42 and Rac1 in a model liposome system, demonstrating that the prenylation and membrane localization of Cdc42 or Rac1 are necessary for their activation by DOCK7. Additionally, we identify DOCK7 residues that confer GTPase GEF specificity. Finally, using our liposome reconstitution assay, we show that a more narrowly defined GEF domain of DHR2 (designated DHR2s) harbors an N-terminal site distinct from the GEF active site that binds preferentially to the active, GTP-bound forms of Cdc42 and Rac1 and thereby recruits free DHR2s from solution to the membrane surface. This recruitment results in a progressive increase in the effective concentration of DHR2s at the membrane surface that in turn provides for an accelerated rate of guanine nucleotide exchange on Cdc42. The positive cooperativity observed in our reconstituted system suggests that the action of DOCK7 in vivo may involve the coordinated integration of Cdc42/Rac signaling in the context of the membrane recruitment of a DOCK7 GEF complex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins / chemistry*
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins / physiology
  • Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors
  • Humans
  • Liposomes
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / physiology
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Protein Prenylation*
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Transcription Factors / physiology
  • cdc42 GTP-Binding Protein / chemistry*
  • cdc42 GTP-Binding Protein / metabolism*
  • rac1 GTP-Binding Protein / chemistry
  • rac1 GTP-Binding Protein / physiology


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • DOCK7 protein, human
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins
  • Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors
  • Liposomes
  • Membrane Proteins
  • SLC2A4RG protein, human
  • Transcription Factors
  • cdc42 GTP-Binding Protein
  • rac1 GTP-Binding Protein