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Semaphorins are extracellular cell guidance cues that govern cytoskeletal dynamics during neuronal and vascular development. MICAL (molecule interacting with CasL) is a multidomain cytosolic protein with a putative flavoprotein monooxygenase (MO) region required for semaphorin-plexin repulsive axon guidance. Here, we report the 1.45-A resolution crystal structure of the FAD-containing MO domain of mouse MICAL-1 (residues 1-489). The topology most closely resembles that of the NADPH-dependent flavoenzyme p-hydroxybenzoate hydroxylase (PHBH). Comparison of structures before and after reaction with NADPH reveals that, as in PHBH, the flavin ring can switch between two discrete positions. In contrast with other MOs, this conformational switch is coupled with the opening of a channel to the active site, suggestive of a protein substrate. In support of this hypothesis, distinctive structural features highlight putative protein-binding sites in suitable proximity to the active site entrance. The unusual juxtaposition of this N-terminal MO (hydroxylase) activity with the characteristics of a multiprotein-binding scaffold exhibited by the C-terminal portion of the MICALs represents a unique combination of functionality to mediate signaling.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Publication Date





16836 - 16841


Animals, Binding Sites, Catalytic Domain, Crystallization, Flavin-Adenine Dinucleotide, Flavins, Mice, Microtubule-Associated Proteins, Mixed Function Oxygenases, Models, Molecular, NADP, Oxidation-Reduction, Protein Conformation, Signal Transduction