Prakash, Priyanka; Zhou, Yong; Liang, Hong; Hancock, John F.; Gorfe, Alemayehu A.
Oncogenic K-Ras Binds to an Anionic Membrane in Two Distinct Orientations: A Molecular Dynamics Analysis
BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL, 110:1125-1138, MAR 8 2016

K-Ras is a membrane-associated GTPase that cycles between active and inactive conformational states to regulate a variety of cell signaling pathways. Somatic mutations in K-Ras are linked to 15-20% of all human tumors. K-Ras attaches to the inner leaflet of the plasma membrane via a farnesylated polybasic domain; however, the structural details of the complex remain poorly understood. Based on extensive (7.5 mu S total) atomistic molecular dynamics simulations here we show that oncogenic mutant K-Ras interacts with a negatively charged lipid bilayer membrane in multiple orientations. Of these, two highly populated orientations account for similar to 54% of the conformers whose catalytic domain directly interacts with the bilayer. In one of these orientation states, membrane binding involves helices 3 and 4 of the catalytic domain in addition to the farnesyl and polybasic motifs. In the other orientation, beta-strands 1-3 and helix 2 on the opposite face of the catalytic domain contribute to membrane binding. Flexibility of the linker region was found to be important for the reorientation. The biological significance of these observations was evaluated by initial experiments in cells overexpressing mutant K-Ras as well as by an analysis of Ras-effector complex structures. The results suggest that only one of the two major orientation states is capable of effector binding. We propose that the different modes of membrane binding may be exploited in structure-based drug design efforts for cancer therapy.


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