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Dok7 is a peripheral membrane protein that is associated with the MuSK receptor tyrosine kinase. Formation of the Dok7/MuSK/membrane complex is required for the activation of MuSK. This is a key step in the complex exchange of signals between neuron and muscle, which lead to neuromuscular junction formation, dysfunction of which is associated with congenital myasthenic syndromes. The Dok7 structure consists of a Pleckstrin Homology (PH) domain and a Phosphotyrosine Binding (PTB) domain. The mechanism of the Dok7 association with the membrane remains largely unknown. Using multi-scale molecular dynamics simulations we have explored the formation of the Dok7 PH/membrane complex. Our simulations indicate that the PH domain of Dok7 associates with membranes containing phosphatidylinositol phosphates (PIPs) via interactions of the β1/β2, β3/β4, and β5/β6 loops, which together form a positively charged surface on the PH domain and interact with the negatively charged headgroups of PIP molecules. The initial encounter of the Dok7 PH domain is followed by formation of additional interactions with the lipid bilayer, and especially with PIP molecules, which stabilizes the Dok7 PH/membrane complex. We have quantified the binding of the PH domain to the model bilayers by calculating a density landscape for protein/membrane interactions. Detailed analysis of the PH/PIP interactions reveal both a canonical and an atypical site to be occupied by the anionic lipid. PH domain binding leads to local clustering of PIP molecules in the bilayer. Association of the Dok7 PH domain with PIP lipids is therefore seen as a key step in localization of Dok7 to the membrane and formation of a complex with MuSK.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS Comput Biol

Publication Date





Amino Acid Sequence, Animals, Binding Sites, Computational Biology, Molecular Dynamics Simulation, Muscle Proteins, Phosphatidylinositol Phosphates, Phosphotyrosine, Pleckstrin Homology Domains