Allosteric KRas4B Can Modulate SOS1 Fast and Slow Ras Activation Cycles

Tsung Jen Liao, Hyunbum Jang, David Fushman, Ruth Nussinov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Membrane-anchored Ras family proteins are activated by guanine nucleotide exchange factors such as SOS1. The CDC25 domain of SOS1 catalyzes GDP-to-GTP exchange, thereby activating Ras. Here, we aim to decipher the activation mechanism of KRas4B, a significantly mutated oncogene. We perform large-scale molecular dynamics simulations on 12 SOS1 systems, scrutinizing each step in two possible KRas4B activation cycles, fast and slow. To activate KRas4B at the CDC25 catalytic site, the allosteric site in the Ras exchanger motif (REM) domain of SOS1 needs to recruit a (nucleotide-bound) KRas4B molecule. Our simulations indicate that KRas4B-GTP interacts with the REM allosteric site more strongly than with the CDC25 catalytic site, consistent with its allosteric role in the GDP-to-GTP exchange. In the fast cycle, the allosteric KRas4B-GTP induces conformational change at the catalytic site. The conformational change facilitates loading KRas4B-GDP at the catalytic site and opening the KRas4B nucleotide-binding site for GDP release and GTP binding. GTP binding reduces the affinity of KRas4B-GTP to the CDC25 catalytic site, resulting in its release. By contrast, in the slow cycle, KRas4B-GDP binds at the allosteric REM site. The limited, altered conformational change that it induces prevents the exact alignments of switch I and II of KRas4B. The increasing binding strength at both binding sites due to interactions of regions other than switch I and II retards GDP release from the catalytic KRas4B, thus KRas4B activation. The accelerated activation cycle supports a positive feedback loop with allosteric signals communicating between the two Ras molecules and is the predominant, native function of SOS. SOS1 activation details may help drug discovery to inhibit Ras activation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)629-641
Number of pages13
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 21 Aug 2018


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