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Du, Jiqing; Wrisberg, Marie-Kristin von; Gulen, Burak; Stahl, Matthias; Pett, Christian; Hedberg, Christian; Lang, Kathrin; Schneider, Sabine and Itzen, Aymelt (2021): Rab1-AMPylation by Legionella DrrA is allosterically activated by Rab1. In: Nature Communications, Vol. 12, No. 1, 460

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Legionella pneumophila infects eukaryotic cells by forming a replicative organelle - the Legionella containing vacuole. During this process, the bacterial protein DrrA/SidM is secreted and manipulates the activity and post-translational modification (PTM) states of the vesicular trafficking regulator Rab1. As a result, Rab1 is modified with an adenosine monophosphate (AMP), and this process is referred to as AMPylation. Here, we use a chemical approach to stabilise low-affinity Rab:DrrA complexes in a site-specific manner to gain insight into the molecular basis of the interaction between the Rab protein and the AMPylation domain of DrrA. The crystal structure of the Rab:DrrA complex reveals a previously unknown non-conventional Rab-binding site (NC-RBS). Biochemical characterisation demonstrates allosteric stimulation of the AMPylation activity of DrrA via Rab binding to the NC-RBS. We speculate that allosteric control of DrrA could in principle prevent random and potentially cytotoxic AMPylation in the host, thereby perhaps ensuring efficient infection by Legionella. The Legionella effector DrrA AMPylates the host protein Rab1 during infection, but the mechanism is still under debate. Here, the authors provide structural insights into the low-affinity DrrA:Rab1 interaction, showing that Rab1 allosterically activates DrrA through a non-conventional binding mechanism.

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