• Distinct Interaction Sites of Rac GTPase with WAVE Regulatory Complex Have Non-redundant Functions in Vivo.

      Schaks, Matthias; Singh, Shashi P; Kage, Frieda; Thomason, Peter; Klünemann, Thomas; Steffen, Anika; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; Stradal, Theresia E; Insall, Robert H; Rottner, Klemens; et al. (2018-10-25)
      Cell migration often involves the formation of sheet-like lamellipodia generated by branched actin filaments. The branches are initiated when Arp2/3 complex [1] is activated by WAVE regulatory complex (WRC) downstream of small GTPases of the Rac family [2]. Recent structural studies defined two independent Rac binding sites on WRC within the Sra-1/PIR121 subunit of the pentameric WRC [3, 4], but the functions of these sites in vivo have remained unknown. Here we dissect the mechanism of WRC activation and the in vivo relevance of distinct Rac binding sites on Sra-1, using CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene disruption of Sra-1 and its paralog PIR121 in murine B16-F1 cells combined with Sra-1 mutant rescue. We show that the A site, positioned adjacent to the binding region of WAVE-WCA mediating actin and Arp2/3 complex binding, is the main site for allosteric activation of WRC. In contrast, the D site toward the C terminus is dispensable for WRC activation but required for optimal lamellipodium morphology and function. These results were confirmed in evolutionarily distant Dictyostelium cells. Moreover, the phenotype seen in D site mutants was recapitulated in Rac1 E31 and F37 mutants; we conclude these residues are important for Rac-D site interaction. Finally, constitutively activated WRC was able to induce lamellipodia even after both Rac interaction sites were lost, showing that Rac interaction is not essential for membrane recruitment. Our data establish that physical interaction with Rac is required for WRC activation, in particular through the A site, but is not mandatory for WRC accumulation in the lamellipodium.
    • EPLIN-α and -β Isoforms Modulate Endothelial Cell Dynamics through a Spatiotemporally Differentiated Interaction with Actin.

      Taha, Muna; Aldirawi, Mohammed; März, Sigrid; Seebach, Jochen; Odenthal-Schnittler, Maria; Bondareva, Olga; Bojovic, Vesna; Schmandra, Thomas; Wirth, Benedikt; Mietkowska, Magdalena; et al. (Elsevier, 2019-10-22)
      Actin-binding proteins are essential for linear and branched actin filament dynamics that control shape change, cell migration, and cell junction remodeling in vascular endothelium (endothelial cells [ECs]). The epithelial protein lost in neoplasm (EPLIN) is an actin-binding protein, expressed as EPLIN-α and EPLIN-β by alternative promoters; however, the isoform-specific functions are not yet understood. Aortic compared to cava vein ECs and shear stress-exposed cultured ECs express increased EPLIN-β levels that stabilize stress fibers. In contrast, EPLIN-α expression is increased in growing and migrating ECs, is targeted to membrane protrusions, and terminates their growth via interaction with the Arp2/3 complex. The data indicate that EPLIN-α controls protrusion dynamics while EPLIN-β has an actin filament stabilizing role, which is consistent with FRAP analyses demonstrating a lower EPLIN-β turnover rate compared to EPLIN-α. Together, EPLIN isoforms differentially control actin dynamics in ECs, essential in shear stress responses, cell migration, and barrier function.
    • RhoA, Rac1, and Cdc42 differentially regulate αSMA and collagen I expression in mesenchymal stem cells.

      Ge, Jianfeng; Burnier, Laurent; Adamopoulou, Maria; Kwa, Mei Qi; Schaks, Matthias; Rottner, Klemens; Brakebusch, Cord (2018-06-15)
      Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are suggested to be important progenitors of myofibroblasts in fibrosis. To understand the role of Rho GTPase signaling in TGF -induced myofibroblast differentiation of MSC, we generated a novel MSC line and its descendants lacking functional Rho GTPases and Rho GTPase signaling components. Unexpectedly, our data revealed that Rho GTPase signaling is required for TGF -induced expression of -smooth muscle actin (SMA) but not of collagen I 1 (col1a1). Whereas loss of RhoA and Cdc42 reduced SMA expression, ablation of the Rac1 gene had the opposite effect. Although actin polymerization and MRTFa were crucial for TGF -induced SMA expression, neither Arp2/3-dependent actinpolymerizationnorcofilin-dependent severinganddepolymerization of F-actin were required. Instead, F-actin levels were dependent on cell contraction, and TGF -induced actin polymerization correlated with increased cell contraction mediated by RhoA and Cdc42. Finally, we observed impaired collagen I secretion in MSC lacking RhoA or Cdc42. These data give novel molecular insights into the role of Rho GTPases in TGF signaling and have implications for our understanding of MSC function in fibrosis.
    • RhoG and Cdc42 can contribute to Rac-dependent lamellipodia formation through WAVE regulatory complex-binding.

      Schaks, Matthias; Döring, Hermann; Kage, Frieda; Steffen, Anika; Klünemann, Thomas; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; Stradal, Theresia; Rottner, Klemens; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Taylor and Francis, 2019-08-26)
      Cell migration frequently involves the formation of lamellipodial protrusions, the initiation of which requires Rac GTPases signalling to heteropentameric WAVE regulatory complex (WRC). While Rac-related RhoG and Cdc42 can potently stimulate lamellipodium formation, so far presumed to occur by upstream signalling to Rac activation, we show here that the latter can be bypassed by RhoG and Cdc42 given that WRC has been artificially activated. This evidence arises from generation of B16-F1 cells simultaneously lacking both Rac GTPases and WRC, followed by reconstitution of lamellipodia formation with specific Rho-GTPase and differentially active WRC variant combinations. We conclude that formation of canonical lamellipodia requires WRC activation through Rac, but can possibly be tuned, in addition, by WRC interactions with RhoG and Cdc42.