Flexible-body motions of calmodulin and the farnesylated hypervariable region yield a high-affinity interaction enabling K-Ras4B membrane extraction

Hyunbum Jang, Avik Banerjee, Tanmay Chavan, Vadim Gaponenko, Ruth Nussinov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In calmodulin (CaM)-rich environments, oncogenic KRAS plays a critical role in adenocarcinomas by promoting PI3K/Akt signaling. We previously proposed that at elevated calcium levels in cancer, CaM recruits PI3K to the membrane and extracts K-Ras4B from the membrane, organizing a K-Ras4B–CaM–PI3K ternary complex. CaM can thereby replace a missing receptor-tyrosine kinase signal to fully activate PI3K. Recent experimental data show that CaM selectively promotes K-Ras signaling but not of N-Ras or H-Ras. How CaM specifically targets K-Ras and how it extracts it from the membrane in KRAS-driven cancer is unclear. Obtaining detailed structural information for a CaM–K-Ras complex is still challenging. Here, using molecular dynamics simulations and fluorescence experiments, we observed that CaM preferentially binds unfolded K-Ras4B hypervariable regions (HVRs) and not -helical HVRs. The interaction involved all three CaM domains including the central linker and both lobes. CaM specifically targeted the highly polybasic anchor region of the K-Ras4B HVR that stably wraps around CaM’s acidic linker. The docking of the farnesyl group to the hydrophobic pockets located at both CaM lobes further enhanced CaM–HVR complex stability. Both CaM and K-Ras4B HVR are highly flexible molecules, suggesting that their interactions permit highly dynamic flexible-body motions. We, therefore, anticipate that the flexible-body interaction is required to extract K-Ras4B from the membrane, as conformational plasticity enables CaM to orient efficiently to the polybasic HVR anchor, which is partially diffused into the liquid-phase membrane. Our structural model of the CaM–K-Ras4B HVR association provides plausible clues to CaM’s regulatory action in PI3K activation involving the ternary complex in cell proliferation signaling by oncogenic K-Ras.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12544-12559
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Volume292
Issue number30
DOIs
StatePublished - 21 Jul 2017

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