Phospholipase D2 (PLD2) is a guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) for the GTPase Rac2

Madhu Mahankali, Hong Juan Peng, Karen M. Henkels, Mary C. Dinauer, Julian Gomez-Cambronero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


We have discovered that the enzymephospholipase D2 (PLD2) binds directly to the small GTPase Rac2, resulting in PLD2 functioning as a guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF), because it switches Rac2 from the GDP-bound to the GTP-bound states. This effect is large enough to be meaningful (∼72%decrease for GDP dissociation and 300% increase for GTP association, both with PLD2), it has a halftime of ∼7 min, is enhanced with increasing PLD2 concentrations, and compares favorably with other known GEFs, such as Vav-1. The PLD2-Rac2 protein-protein interaction is sufficient for the GEF function, because it can be demonstrated in vitro with just recombinant proteins without lipid substrates, and a catalytically inactive lipase (PLD2-K758R) has GEF activity. Apart from this function, exogenous phosphatidic acid by itself (300 pM) increases GTP binding and enhances PLD2-K758R-mediated GTP binding (by ∼34%) but not GDP dissociation. Regarding the PLD2-Rac2 protein-protein association, it involves, for PLD2, residues 263-266 within a Cdc42/Rac interactive binding region in the PH domain, as well as the PX domain, and it involves, for Rac2, residue N17 within its Switch-1 region. PLD2's GEF function is demonstrated in living cells, because silencing PLD2 results in reduced Rac2 activity, whereas PLD2-initiated Rac2 activation enhances cell adhesion, chemotaxis, and phagocytosis. There are several known GEFs, but we report that this GEF is harbored in a phospholipase. The benefit to the cell is that PLD2 brings spatially separatedmolecules together in a membrane environment, ready for fast intracellular signaling and cell function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19617-19622
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number49
StatePublished - Dec 6 2011


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