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1.  Phosphorylation-mediated regulation of GEFs for RhoA 
Cell Adhesion & Migration  2013;8(1):11-18.
Spatio-temporal control of RhoA GTPase is critical for regulation of cell migration, attachment to extracellular matrix, and cell–cell adhesions. Activation of RhoA is mediated by guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs), a diverse family of enzymes that are controlled by multiple signaling pathways regulating actin cytoskeleton and cell migration. GEFs can be regulated by different mechanisms. Growing evidence demonstrates that phosphorylation serves as one of the predominant signals controlling activity, interactions, and localization of RhoGEFs. It acts as a positive and a negative regulator, and allows for regulation of RhoGEFs by multiple signaling cascades. Although there are common trends in phosphorylation-mediated regulation of some RhoGEF homologs, the majority of GEFs utilize distinct mechanisms that are dictated by their unique structure and interaction networks. This diversity enables multiple signaling pathways to use different RhoGEFs for regulation of a single central—RhoA. Here, we review current examples of phosphorylation-mediated regulation of GEFs for RhoA and its role in cell migration, discuss mechanisms, and provide insights into potential future directions.
PMCID: PMC3974788  PMID: 24589508
RhoA; RhoGEF; phosphorylation; kinase; cell migration
2.  Allosteric activation of kinases: Design and application of RapR kinases 
Current Protocols in Cell Biology  2011;CHAPTER:Unit-14.13..
Here we describe a method for the engineered regulation of protein kinases in living cells, the design and application of RapR (rapamycin regulated) kinases. The RapR kinase method enables activation of kinases with high specificity and precise temporal control. Insertion of an engineered allosteric switch, the iFKBP domain, at a structurally conserved position within the kinase catalytic domain makes the modified kinase inactive. Treatment with rapamycin or its non-immunosuppresive analogs triggers interaction with a small FKBP-rapamycin-binding domain (FRB), restoring the activity of the kinase. The reagents used in this method are genetically encoded or membrane permeable, enabling ready application in many systems. Based on the structural similarity of kinase catalytic domains, this method is likely applicable to a wide variety of kinases. Successful regulation has already been demonstrated for three kinases representing both tyrosine and serine/threonine kinase families (p38, FAK, Src). Procedures for designing and testing RapR kinases are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3269071  PMID: 22161545
kinase; allosteric; activation; phosphorylation
3.  Light-regulation of protein dimerization and kinase activity in living cells using photocaged rapamycin and engineered FKBP 
We developed a new system for light-induced protein dimerization in living cells using a novel photocaged analog of rapamycin (pRap) together with an engineered rapamycin binding domain (iFKBP). Using focal adhesion kinase as a target, we demonstrated successful light-mediated regulation of protein interaction and localization in living cells. Modification of this approach enabled light-triggered activation of a protein kinase and initiation of kinase-induced phenotypic changes in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3133816  PMID: 21162531
4.  Engineered allosteric activation of kinases in living cells 
Nature biotechnology  2010;28(7):743-747.
Studies of cellular and tissue dynamics benefit greatly from tools that can control protein activity with specificity and precise timing in living systems. We describe here a new approach to confer allosteric regulation specifically on the catalytic activity of kinases. A highly conserved portion of the kinase catalytic domain is modified with a small protein insert that inactivates catalytic activity, but does not affect other protein interactions. Catalytic activity is restored by addition of rapamycin or non-immunosuppresive analogs (Fig. 1A). We demonstrate the approach by specifically activating focal adhesion kinase (FAK) within minutes in living cells, thereby demonstrating a novel role for FAK in regulation of membrane dynamics. Molecular modeling and mutagenesis indicate that the protein insert reduces activity by increasing the flexibility of the catalytic domain. Drug binding restores activity by increasing rigidity. Successful regulation of Src and p38 suggest that modification of this highly conserved site will be applicable to other kinases.
PMCID: PMC2902629  PMID: 20581846
5.  Spatial and Temporal Regulation of Focal Adhesion Kinase Activity in Living Cells▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2007;28(1):201-214.
Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is an essential kinase that regulates developmental processes and functions in the pathology of human disease. An intramolecular autoinhibitory interaction between the FERM and catalytic domains is a major mechanism of regulation. Based upon structural studies, a fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based FAK biosensor that discriminates between autoinhibited and active conformations of the kinase was developed. This biosensor was used to probe FAK conformational change in live cells and the mechanism of regulation. The biosensor demonstrates directly that FAK undergoes conformational change in vivo in response to activating stimuli. A conserved FERM domain basic patch is required for this conformational change and for interaction with a novel ligand for FAK, acidic phospholipids. Binding to phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2)-containing phospholipid vesicles activated and induced conformational change in FAK in vitro, and alteration of PIP2 levels in vivo changed the level of activation of the conformational biosensor. These findings provide direct evidence of conformational regulation of FAK in living cells and novel insight into the mechanism regulating FAK conformation.
PMCID: PMC2223290  PMID: 17967873
6.  Cortactin and Crk cooperate to trigger actin polymerization during Shigella invasion of epithelial cells 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2004;166(2):225-235.
Shigella, the causative agent of bacillary dysentery, invades epithelial cells in a process involving Src tyrosine kinase signaling. Cortactin, a ubiquitous actin-binding protein present in structures of dynamic actin assembly, is the major protein tyrosine phosphorylated during Shigella invasion. Here, we report that RNA interference silencing of cortactin expression, as does Src inhibition in cells expressing kinase-inactive Src, interferes with actin polymerization required for the formation of cellular extensions engulfing the bacteria. Shigella invasion induced the recruitment of cortactin at plasma membranes in a tyrosine phosphorylation–dependent manner. Overexpression of wild-type forms of cortactin or the adaptor protein Crk favored Shigella uptake, and Arp2/3 binding–deficient cortactin derivatives or an Src homology 2 domain Crk mutant interfered with bacterial-induced actin foci formation. Crk was shown to directly interact with tyrosine-phosphorylated cortactin and to condition cortactin-dependent actin polymerization required for Shigella uptake. These results point at a major role for a Crk–cortactin complex in actin polymerization downstream of tyrosine kinase signaling.
PMCID: PMC2172305  PMID: 15263018
Shigella; invasion; cortactin; Crk; actin
7.  The Association of ASAP1, an ADP Ribosylation Factor-GTPase Activating Protein, with Focal Adhesion Kinase Contributes to the Process of Focal Adhesion Assembly 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2002;13(6):2147-2156.
ASAP1 (ADP ribosylation factor [ARF]- GTPase-activating protein [GAP] containing SH3, ANK repeats, and PH domain) is a phospholipid-dependent ARF-GAP that binds to and is phosphorylated by pp60Src. Using affinity chromatography and yeast two-hybrid interaction screens, we identified ASAP1 as a major binding partner of protein tyrosine kinase focal adhesion kinase (FAK). Glutathione S-transferase pull-down and coimmunoprecipitation assays showed the binding of ASAP1 to FAK is mediated by an interaction between the C-terminal SH3 domain of ASAP1 with the second proline-rich motif in the C-terminal region of FAK. Transient overexpression of wild-type ASAP1 significantly retarded the spreading of REF52 cells plated on fibronectin. In contrast, overexpression of a truncated variant of ASAP1 that failed to bind FAK or a catalytically inactive variant of ASAP1 lacking GAP activity resulted in a less pronounced inhibition of cell spreading. Transient overexpression of wild-type ASAP1 prevented the efficient organization of paxillin and FAK in focal adhesions during cell spreading, while failing to significantly alter vinculin localization and organization. We conclude from these studies that modulation of ARF activity by ASAP1 is important for the regulation of focal adhesion assembly and/or organization by influencing the mechanisms responsible for the recruitment and organization of selected focal adhesion proteins such as paxillin and FAK.
PMCID: PMC117631  PMID: 12058076
8.  Cortactin Localization to Sites of Actin Assembly in Lamellipodia Requires Interactions with F-Actin and the Arp2/3 Complex 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2000;151(1):29-40.
Cortactin is an actin-binding protein that is enriched within the lamellipodia of motile cells and in neuronal growth cones. Here, we report that cortactin is localized with the actin-related protein (Arp) 2/3 complex at sites of actin polymerization within the lamellipodia. Two distinct sequence motifs of cortactin contribute to its interaction with the cortical actin network: the fourth of six tandem repeats and the amino-terminal acidic region (NTA). Cortactin variants lacking either the fourth tandem repeat or the NTA failed to localize at the cell periphery. Tandem repeat four was necessary for cortactin to stably bind F-actin in vitro. The NTA region interacts directly with the Arp2/3 complex based on affinity chromatography, immunoprecipitation assays, and binding assays using purified components. Cortactin variants containing the NTA region were inefficient at promoting Arp2/3 actin nucleation activity. These data provide strong evidence that cortactin is specifically localized to sites of dynamic cortical actin assembly via simultaneous interaction with F-actin and the Arp2/3 complex. Cortactin interacts via its Src homology 3 (SH3) domain with ZO-1 and the SHANK family of postsynaptic density 95/dlg/ZO-1 homology (PDZ) domain–containing proteins, suggesting that cortactin contributes to the spatial organization of sites of actin polymerization coupled to selected cell surface transmembrane receptor complexes.
PMCID: PMC2189811  PMID: 11018051
actin; cortactin; lamellipodia; Arp2/3 complex

Results 1-8 (8)