Abstract

Small GTPases regulate many aspects of cell logistics by alternating between an inactive, GDP-bound form and an active, GTP-bound form. This nucleotide switch is coupled to a cytosol/membrane cycle, such that GTP-bound small GTPases carry out their functions at the periphery of endomembranes. A global understanding of the molecular determinants of the interaction of small GTPases with membranes and of the resulting supramolecular organization is beginning to emerge from studies of model systems. Recent studies highlighted that small GTPases establish multiple interactions with membranes involving their lipid anchor, their lipididated hypervariable region and elements in their GTPase domain, which combine to determine the strength, specificity and orientation of their association with lipids. Thereby, membrane association potentiates small GTPase interactions with GEFs, GAPs and effectors through colocalization and positional matching. Furthermore, it leads to small GTPase nanoclustering and to lipid demixing, which drives the assembly of molecular platforms in which proteins and lipids co-operate in producing high-fidelity signals through feedback and feedforward loops. Although still fragmentary, these observations point to an integrated model of signaling by membrane-attached small GTPases that involves a diversity of direct and indirect interactions, which can inspire new therapeutic strategies to block their activities in diseases.

You do not currently have access to this content.