• Actin assembly mechanisms at a glance.

      Rottner, Klemens; Faix, Jan; Bogdan, Sven; Linder, Stefan; Kerkhoff, Eugen; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-10-15)
      The actin cytoskeleton and associated motor proteins provide the driving forces for establishing the astonishing morphological diversity and dynamics of mammalian cells. Aside from functions in protruding and contracting cell membranes for motility, differentiation or cell division, the actin cytoskeleton provides forces to shape and move intracellular membranes of organelles and vesicles. To establish the many different actin assembly functions required in time and space, actin nucleators are targeted to specific subcellular compartments, thereby restricting the generation of specific actin filament structures to those sites. Recent research has revealed that targeting and activation of actin filament nucleators, elongators and myosin motors are tightly coordinated by conserved protein complexes to orchestrate force generation. In this Cell Science at a Glance article and the accompanying poster, we summarize and discuss the current knowledge on the corresponding protein complexes and their modes of action in actin nucleation, elongation and force generation.
    • FMNL2 and -3 regulate Golgi architecture and anterograde transport downstream of Cdc42.

      Kage, Frieda; Steffen, Anika; Ellinger, Adolf; Ranftler, Carmen; Gehre, Christian; Brakebusch, Cord; Pavelka, Margit; Stradal, Theresia; Rottner, Klemens; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-08-29)
      The Rho-family small GTPase Cdc42 localizes at plasma membrane and Golgi complex and aside from protrusion and migration operates in vesicle trafficking, endo- and exocytosis as well as establishment and/or maintenance of cell polarity. The formin family members FMNL2 and -3 are actin assembly factors established to regulate cell edge protrusion during migration and invasion. Here we report these formins to additionally accumulate and function at the Golgi apparatus. As opposed to lamellipodia, Golgi targeting of these proteins required both their N-terminal myristoylation and the interaction with Cdc42. Moreover, Golgi association of FMNL2 or -3 induced a phalloidin-detectable actin meshwork around the Golgi. Importantly, functional interference with FMNL2/3 formins by RNAi or CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene deletion invariably induced Golgi fragmentation in different cell lines. Furthermore, absence of these proteins led to enlargement of endosomes as well as defective maturation and/or sorting into late endosomes and lysosomes. In line with Cdc42 - recently established to regulate anterograde transport through the Golgi by cargo sorting and carrier formation - FMNL2/3 depletion also affected anterograde trafficking of VSV-G from the Golgi to the plasma membrane. Our data thus link FMNL2/3 formins to actin assembly-dependent functions of Cdc42 in anterograde transport through the Golgi apparatus.
    • FMNL formins boost lamellipodial force generation.

      Kage, Frieda; Winterhoff, Moritz; Dimchev, Vanessa; Mueller, Jan; Thalheim, Tobias; Freise, Anika; Brühmann, Stefan; Kollasser, Jana; Block, Jennifer; Dimchev, Georgi; et al. (2017-03-22)
      Migration frequently involves Rac-mediated protrusion of lamellipodia, formed by Arp2/3 complex-dependent branching thought to be crucial for force generation and stability of these networks. The formins FMNL2 and FMNL3 are Cdc42 effectors targeting to the lamellipodium tip and shown here to nucleate and elongate actin filaments with complementary activities in vitro. In migrating B16-F1 melanoma cells, both formins contribute to the velocity of lamellipodium protrusion. Loss of FMNL2/3 function in melanoma cells and fibroblasts reduces lamellipodial width, actin filament density and -bundling, without changing patterns of Arp2/3 complex incorporation. Strikingly, in melanoma cells, FMNL2/3 gene inactivation almost completely abolishes protrusion forces exerted by lamellipodia and modifies their ultrastructural organization. Consistently, CRISPR/Cas-mediated depletion of FMNL2/3 in fibroblasts reduces both migration and capability of cells to move against viscous media. Together, we conclude that force generation in lamellipodia strongly depends on FMNL formin activity, operating in addition to Arp2/3 complex-dependent filament branching.
    • Coordination by Cdc42 of Actin, Contractility, and Adhesion for Melanoblast Movement in Mouse Skin.

      Woodham, Emma F; Paul, Nikki R; Tyrrell, Benjamin; Spence, Heather J; Swaminathan, Karthic; Scribner, Michelle R; Giampazolias, Evangelos; Hedley, Ann; Clark, William; Kage, Frieda; et al. (2017-03-06)
      The individual molecular pathways downstream of Cdc42, Rac, and Rho GTPases are well documented, but we know surprisingly little about how these pathways are coordinated when cells move in a complex environment in vivo. In the developing embryo, melanoblasts originating from the neural crest must traverse the dermis to reach the epidermis of the skin and hair follicles. We previously established that Rac1 signals via Scar/WAVE and Arp2/3 to effect pseudopod extension and migration of melanoblasts in skin. Here we show that RhoA is redundant in the melanocyte lineage but that Cdc42 coordinates multiple motility systems independent of Rac1. Similar to Rac1 knockouts, Cdc42 null mice displayed a severe loss of pigmentation, and melanoblasts showed cell-cycle progression, migration, and cytokinesis defects. However, unlike Rac1 knockouts, Cdc42 null melanoblasts were elongated and displayed large, bulky pseudopods with dynamic actin bursts. Despite assuming an elongated shape usually associated with fast mesenchymal motility, Cdc42 knockout melanoblasts migrated slowly and inefficiently in the epidermis, with nearly static pseudopods. Although much of the basic actin machinery was intact, Cdc42 null cells lacked the ability to polarize their Golgi and coordinate motility systems for efficient movement. Loss of Cdc42 de-coupled three main systems: actin assembly via the formin FMNL2 and Arp2/3, active myosin-II localization, and integrin-based adhesion dynamics.
    • Loss of cortactin causes endothelial barrier dysfunction via disturbed adrenomedullin secretion and actomyosin contractility.

      García Ponce, Alexander; Citalán Madrid, Alí F; Vargas Robles, Hilda; Chánez Paredes, Sandra; Nava, Porfirio; Betanzos, Abigail; Zarbock, Alexander; Rottner, Klemens; Vestweber, Dietmar; Schnoor, Michael; et al. (2016)
      Changes in vascular permeability occur during inflammation and the actin cytoskeleton plays a crucial role in regulating endothelial cell contacts and permeability. We demonstrated recently that the actin-binding protein cortactin regulates vascular permeability via Rap1. However, it is unknown if the actin cytoskeleton contributes to increased vascular permeability without cortactin. As we consistently observed more actin fibres in cortactin-depleted endothelial cells, we hypothesised that cortactin depletion results in increased stress fibre contractility and endothelial barrier destabilisation. Analysing the contractile machinery, we found increased ROCK1 protein levels in cortactin-depleted endothelium. Concomitantly, myosin light chain phosphorylation was increased while cofilin, mDia and ERM were unaffected. Secretion of the barrier-stabilising hormone adrenomedullin, which activates Rap1 and counteracts actomyosin contractility, was reduced in plasma from cortactin-deficient mice and in supernatants of cortactin-depleted endothelium. Importantly, adrenomedullin administration and ROCK1 inhibition reduced actomyosin contractility and rescued the effect on permeability provoked by cortactin deficiency in vitro and in vivo. Our data suggest a new role for cortactin in controlling actomyosin contractility with consequences for endothelial barrier integrity.
    • The structure of FMNL2-Cdc42 yields insights into the mechanism of lamellipodia and filopodia formation.

      Kühn, Sonja; Erdmann, Constanze; Kage, Frieda; Block, Jennifer; Schwenkmezger, Lisa; Steffen, Anika; Rottner, Klemens; Geyer, Matthias; Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Inhoffenstraße 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015)
      Formins are actin polymerization factors that elongate unbranched actin filaments at the barbed end. Rho family GTPases activate Diaphanous-related formins through the relief of an autoregulatory interaction. The crystal structures of the N-terminal domains of human FMNL1 and FMNL2 in complex with active Cdc42 show that Cdc42 mediates contacts with all five armadillo repeats of the formin with specific interactions formed by the Rho-GTPase insert helix. Mutation of three residues within Rac1 results in a gain-of-function mutation for FMNL2 binding and reconstitution of the Cdc42 phenotype in vivo. Dimerization of FMNL1 through a parallel coiled coil segment leads to formation of an umbrella-shaped structure that—together with Cdc42—spans more than 15 nm in diameter. The two interacting FMNL-Cdc42 heterodimers expose six membrane interaction motifs on a convex protein surface, the assembly of which may facilitate actin filament elongation at the leading edge of lamellipodia and filopodia.