GIT1 is an ArfGAP and scaffolding protein regulating cell adhesion and migration. The multidomain structure of GIT1 allows the interaction with several partners. Binding of GIT1 to some of its partners requires activation of the GIT1 polypeptide. Our previous studies indicated that binding of paxillin to GIT1 is enhanced by release of an intramolecular interaction between the amino-terminal and carboxy-terminal portions that keeps the protein in a binding-incompetent state. Here we have addressed the mechanism mediating this intramolecular inhibitory mechanism by testing the effects of the mutation of several formerly identified GIT1 phosphorylation sites on the binding to paxillin. We have identified two tyrosines at positions 246 and 293 of the human GIT1 polypeptide that are needed to keep the protein in the inactive conformation. Interestingly, mutation of these residues to phenylalanine did not affect binding to paxillin, while mutation to either alanine or glutamic acid enhanced binding to paxillin, without affecting the constitutive binding to the Rac/Cdc42 exchange factor βPIX. The involvement of the two tyrosine residues in the intramolecular interaction was supported by reconstitution experiments showing that these residues are important for the binding between the amino-terminal fragment and carboxy-terminal portions of GIT1. Either GIT1 or GIT1-N tyrosine phosphorylation by Src and pervanadate treatment to inhibit protein tyrosine phosphatases did not affect the intramolecular binding between the amino- and carboxy-terminal fragments, nor the binding of GIT1 to paxillin. Mutations increasing the binding of GIT1 to paxillin positively affected cell motility, measured both by transwell migration and wound healing assays. Altogether these results show that tyrosines 246 and 293 of GIT1 are required for the intramolecular inhibitory mechanism that prevents the binding of GIT1 to paxillin. The data also suggest that tyrosine phosphorylation may not be sufficient to release the intramolecular interaction that keeps GIT1 in the inactive conformation. © 2014 Totaro et al.