The Projection Analysis of NMR Chemical Shifts Reveals Extended EPAC Autoinhibition Determinants
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EPAC is a cAMP-dependent guanine nucleotide exchange factor that serves as a prototypical molecular switch for the regulation of essential cellular processes. Although EPAC activation by cAMP has been extensively investigated, the mechanism of EPAC autoinhibition is still not fully understood. The steric clash between the side chains of two conserved residues, L273 and F300 in EPAC1, has been previously shown to oppose the inactive-to-active conformational transition in the absence of cAMP. However, it has also been hypothesized that autoinhibition is assisted by entropic losses caused by quenching of dynamics that occurs if the inactive-to-active transition takes place in the absence of cAMP. Here, we test this hypothesis through the comparative NMR analysis of several EPAC1 mutants that target different allosteric sites of the cAMP-binding domain (CBD). Using what to our knowledge is a novel projection analysis of NMR chemical shifts to probe the effect of the mutations on the autoinhibition equilibrium of the CBD, we find that whenever the apo/active state is stabilized relative to the apo/inactive state, dynamics are consistently quenched in a conserved loop (β2-β3) and helix (α5) of the CBD. Overall, our results point to the presence of conserved and nondegenerate determinants of CBD autoinhibition that extends beyond the originally proposed L273/F300 residue pair, suggesting that complete activation necessitates the simultaneous suppression of multiple autoinhibitory mechanisms, which in turn confers added specificity for the cAMP allosteric effector.
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