Identification and characterization of a new family of guanine nucleotide exchange factors for the ras-related GTPase Ral.
Guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) are responsible for coupling cell surface receptors to Ras protein activation. Here we describe the characterization of a novel family of differentially expressed GEFs, identified by database sequence homology searching. These molecules share the core catalytic domain of other Ras family GEFs but lack the catalytic non-conserved (conserved non-catalytic/Ras exchange motif/structurally conserved region 0) domain that is believed to contribute to Sos1 integrity. In vitro binding and in vivo nucleotide exchange assays indicate that these GEFs specifically catalyze the GTP loading of the Ral GTPase when overexpressed in 293T cells. A central proline-rich motif associated with the Src homology (SH)2/SH3-containing adapter proteins Grb2 and Nck in vivo, whereas a pleckstrin homology (PH) domain was located at the GEF C terminus. We refer to these GEFs as RalGPS 1A, 1B, and 2 (Ral GEFs with PH domain and SH3 binding motif). The PH domain was required for in vivo GEF activity and could be functionally replaced by the Ki-Ras C terminus, suggesting a role in membrane targeting. In the absence of the PH domain RalGPS 1B cooperated with Grb2 to promote Ral activation, indicating that SH3 domain interaction also contributes to RalGPS regulation. In contrast to the Ral guanine nucleotide dissociation stimulator family of Ral GEFs, the RalGPS proteins do not possess a Ras-GTP-binding domain, suggesting that they are activated in a Ras-independent manner.