The nucleotide switch in Cdc42 modulates coupling between the GTPase-binding and allosteric equilibria of Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein. Academic Article uri icon


  • The GTP/GDP nucleotide switch in Ras superfamily GTPases generally involves differential affinity toward downstream effectors, with the GTP-bound state having a higher affinity for effector than the GDP-bound state. We have developed a quantitative model of allosteric regulation of the Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein (WASP) by the Rho GTPase Cdc42 to better understand how GTPase binding is coupled to effector activation. The model accurately predicts WASP affinity for Cdc42, activity toward Arp2/3 complex, and activation by Cdc42 as functions of a two-state allosteric equilibrium in WASP. The ratio of GTPase affinities for the inactive and active states of WASP is appreciably larger for Cdc42-GTP than for Cdc42-GDP. The greater ability to distinguish between the two states of WASP makes Cdc42-GTP a full WASP agonist, whereas Cdc42-GDP is only a partial agonist. Thus, the nucleotide switch controls not only the affinity of Cdc42 for its effector but also the efficiency of coupling between the Cdc42-binding and allosteric equilibria in WASP. This effect can ensure high fidelity and specificity in Cdc42 signaling in crowded membrane environments.

publication date

  • April 19, 2005