Spontaneous nucleotide exchange in low molecular weight GTPases by fluorescently labeled γ-phosphate-linked GTP analogs

Jonas Korlach, Daniel W. Baird, Ahmed A. Heikal, Kyle R. Gee, Gregory R. Hoffman, Watt W. Webb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Regulated guanosine nucleotide exchange and hydrolysis constitute the fundamental activities of low molecular weight GTPases. We show that three guanosine 5′-triphosphate analogs with BODIPY fluorophores coupled via the gamma phosphate bind to the GTPases Cdc42, Rac1, RhoA, and Ras and displace guanosine 5′-diphosphate with high intrinsic exchange rates in the presence of Mg2+ ions, thereby acting as synthetic, low molecular weight guanine nucleotide exchange factors. The accompanying large fluorescence enhancements (as high as 12-fold), caused by a reduction in guanine quenching of the environmentally sensitive BODIPY dye fluorescence on protein binding, allow for real-time monitoring of this spontaneous nucleotide exchange in the visible spectrum with high signal-to-noise ratios. Binding affinities increased with longer aliphatic linkers connecting the nucleotide and BODIPY fluorophore and were in the 10-100 nM range. Steady-state and time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy showed an inverse relationship between linker length and fluorescence enhancement factors and differences in protein-bound fluorophore mobilities, providing optimization criteria for future applications of such compounds as efficient elicitors and reporters of nucleotide exchange. EDTA markedly enhanced nucleotide exchange, enabling rapid loading of GTPases with these probes. Differences in active site geometries, in the absence of Mg 2+, caused qualitatively different reporting of the bound state by the different analogs. The BODIPY analogs also prevented the interaction of Cdc42 with p21 activated kinase. Together, these results validate the use of these analogs as valuable tools for studying GTPase functions and for developing potent synthetic nucleotide exchange factors for this important class of signaling molecules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2800-2805
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number9
StatePublished - Mar 2 2004


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