Bacterially expressed glutathione S-transferase fusion proteins containing Rac1 were used to identify binding proteins of this Rho family GTPase present in a bovine brain extract. Five proteins of 85, 110, 125, 140 and 170 kDa were detected, all of which were associated exclusively with guanosine 5´-[γ-thio]triphosphate-bound Rac1, not with GDP-bound Rac1. The 85 and 110 kDa proteins were identified as the regulatory and catalytic subunits respectively of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase. Several lines of evidence suggested that the 125 kDa protein is identical with Nck-associated protein 1 (Nap1). The mobilities of the 125 kDa protein and Nap1 on SDS/PAGE were indistinguishable, and the 125 kDa protein was depleted from brain extract by preincubation with the Src homology 3 domain of Nck to which Nap1 binds. Furthermore, antibodies to Nap1 reacted with the 125 kDa protein. Nap1 was co-immunoprecipitated with a constitutively active form of Rac expressed in Chinese hamster ovary cells. The observation that complex formation between activated Rac and PAK, but not that between Rac and Nap1, could be reproduced in vitro with recombinant proteins indicates that the interaction of Nap1 with Rac is indirect. The 140 kDa Rac-binding protein is a potential candidate for a link that connects Nap1 to Rac. The multimolecular complex comprising Rac, Nap1 and probably the 140 kDa protein might mediate some of the biological effects transmitted by the multipotent GTPase.

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