Liprins are highly conserved scaffold proteins that regulate cell adhesion, cell migration, and synapse development by binding to diverse target proteins. The molecular basis governing liprin/target interactions is poorly understood. The liprin-α2/CASK complex structure solved here reveals that the three SAM domains of liprin-α form an integrated supramodule that binds to the CASK kinase-like domain. As supported by biochemical and cellular studies, the interaction between liprin-α and CASK is unique to vertebrates, implying that the liprin-α/CASK interaction is likely to regulate higher-order brain functions in mammals. Consistently, we demonstrate that three recently identified X-linked mental retardation mutants of CASK are defective in binding to liprin-α. We also solved the liprin-α/liprin-β SAM domain complex structure, which uncovers the mechanism underlying liprin heterodimerizaion. Finally, formation of the CASK/liprin-α/liprin-β ternary complex suggests that liprins can mediate assembly of target proteins into large protein complexes capable of regulating numerous cellular activities.

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Journal Molecular Cell
Wei, Z, Zheng, S, Spangler, S.A, Yu, C, Hoogenraad, C.C, & Zhang, M. (2011). Liprin-Mediated Large Signaling Complex Organization Revealed by the Liprin-α/CASK and Liprin-α/Liprin-β Complex Structures. Molecular Cell, 43(4), 586–598. doi:10.1016/j.molcel.2011.07.021