Regulation of Alix by an autoinhibitory intramolecular interaction

Xi Zhou, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


In eukaryotic cells, the ESCRTs (endosomal sorting complexes required for transport) machinery is required for cellular processes such as endosomal sorting, retroviral budding and cytokinesis. The ALG-2 interacting protein Alix is a modular adaptor protein that is critically involved in these ESCRTs-associated cellular processes and consists of an N-terminal Bro1 domain, a middle V domain and C-terminal Pro-rich domain (PRD). In these cellular processes, Alix interacts with the ESCRT-III component CHMP4 at the Bro1 domain, with HIV-1 p6 Gag or EIAV p9Gag at the V domain, and with the ESCRT-I component TSG101 at the Pro-rich domain. Here we demonstrate that the N-terminal Bro1 domain forms an intramolecular interaction with C-terminal PRD within Alix. This Bro1-PRD intramolecular interaction forms a closed conformation of Alix that autoinhibits Alix interaction with all of these partner proteins. Moreover, the binding of Ca2+-activated ALG-2 to the PRD of Alix relieves the autoinhibitory intramolecular interaction, resulting in an open conformation of Alix which is able to interact with all of these partner proteins. The partner proteins bound to Alix in turn maintain Alix in the open conformation after ALG-2 dissociation with Alix. Consistent with the effect of Ca2+-activated ALG-2 on opening/activating Alix in these ESCRTs-associated functions, ALG-2 overexpression accelerates EGF-induced degradation of EGFR in an Alix-dependent manner. These findings discover an intrinsic autoinhibitory mechanism of Alix and a two-step process to activate/open Alix and then keep Alix active/open. This study has solved long-standing issues on the regulations of Alix in ESCRTs-associated functions and the role of ALG-2-Alix interaction, and may serve as the structural basis for further studies about Alix regulations.

Subject Area

Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Zhou, Xi, "Regulation of Alix by an autoinhibitory intramolecular interaction" (2008). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3312623.