• Essential role for Abi1 in embryonic survival and WAVE2 complex integrity.

      Dubielecka, Patrycja M; Ladwein, Kathrin I; Xiong, Xiaoling; Migeotte, Isabelle; Chorzalska, Anna; Anderson, Kathryn V; Sawicki, Janet A; Rottner, Klemens; Stradal, Theresia E; Kotula, Leszek; et al. (2011-04-26)
      Abl interactor 1 (Abi1) plays a critical function in actin cytoskeleton dynamics through participation in the WAVE2 complex. To gain a better understanding of the specific role of Abi1, we generated a conditional Abi1-KO mouse model and MEFs lacking Abi1 expression. Abi1-KO cells displayed defective regulation of the actin cytoskeleton, and this dysregulation was ascribed to altered activity of the WAVE2 complex. Changes in motility of Abi1-KO cells were manifested by a decreased migration rate and distance but increased directional persistence. Although these phenotypes did not correlate with peripheral ruffling, which was unaffected, Abi1-KO cells exhibited decreased dorsal ruffling. Western blotting analysis of Abi1-KO cell lysates indicated reduced levels of the WAVE complex components WAVE1 and WAVE2, Nap1, and Sra-1/PIR121. Although relative Abi2 levels were more than doubled in Abi1-KO cells, the absolute Abi2 expression in these cells amounted only to a fifth of Abi1 levels in the control cell line. This finding suggests that the presence of Abi1 is critical for the integrity and stability of WAVE complex and that Abi2 levels are not sufficiently increased to compensate fully for the loss of Abi1 in KO cells and to restore the integrity and function of the WAVE complex. The essential function of Abi1 in WAVE complexes and their regulation might explain the observed embryonic lethality of Abi1-deficient embryos, which survived until approximately embryonic day 11.5 and displayed malformations in the developing heart and brain. Cells lacking Abi1 and the conditional Abi1-KO mouse will serve as critical models for defining Abi1 function.
    • High-resolution X-ray structure of the trimeric Scar/WAVE-complex precursor Brk1.

      Linkner, Joern; Witte, Gregor; Stradal, Theresia; Curth, Ute; Faix, Jan; Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany. (2011)
      The Scar/WAVE-complex links upstream Rho-GTPase signaling to the activation of the conserved Arp2/3-complex. Scar/WAVE-induced and Arp2/3-complex-mediated actin nucleation is crucial for actin assembly in protruding lamellipodia to drive cell migration. The heteropentameric Scar/WAVE-complex is composed of Scar/WAVE, Abi, Nap, Pir and a small polypeptide Brk1/HSPC300, and recent work suggested that free Brk1 serves as a homooligomeric precursor in the assembly of this complex. Here we characterized the Brk1 trimer from Dictyostelium by analytical ultracentrifugation and gelfiltration. We show for the first time its dissociation at concentrations in the nanomolar range as well as an exchange of subunits within different DdBrk1 containing complexes. Moreover, we determined the three-dimensional structure of DdBrk1 at 1.5 Å resolution by X-ray crystallography. Three chains of DdBrk1 are associated with each other forming a parallel triple coiled-coil bundle. Notably, this structure is highly similar to the heterotrimeric α-helical bundle of HSPC300/WAVE1/Abi2 within the human Scar/WAVE-complex. This finding, together with the fact that Brk1 is collectively sandwiched by the remaining subunits and also constitutes the main subunit connecting the triple-coil domain of the HSPC300/WAVE1/Abi2/ heterotrimer to Sra1(Pir1), implies a critical function of this subunit in the assembly process of the entire Scar/WAVE-complex.
    • Rac1 regulates neuronal polarization through the WAVE complex.

      Tahirovic, Sabina; Hellal, Farida; Neukirchen, Dorothee; Hindges, Robert; Garvalov, Boyan K; Flynn, Kevin C; Stradal, Theresia E; Chrostek-Grashoff, Anna; Brakebusch, Cord; Bradke, Frank; et al. (2010-05-19)
      Neuronal migration and axon growth, key events during neuronal development, require distinct changes in the cytoskeleton. Although many molecular regulators of polarity have been identified and characterized, relatively little is known about their physiological role in this process. To study the physiological function of Rac1 in neuronal development, we have generated a conditional knock-out mouse, in which Rac1 is ablated in the whole brain. Rac1-deficient cerebellar granule neurons, which do not express other Rac isoforms, showed impaired neuronal migration and axon formation both in vivo and in vitro. In addition, Rac1 ablation disrupts lamellipodia formation in growth cones. The analysis of Rac1 effectors revealed the absence of the Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein (WASP) family verprolin-homologous protein (WAVE) complex from the plasma membrane of knock-out growth cones. Loss of WAVE function inhibited axon growth, whereas overexpression of a membrane-tethered WAVE mutant partially rescued axon growth in Rac1-knock-out neurons. In addition, pharmacological inhibition of the WAVE complex effector Arp2/3 also reduced axon growth. We propose that Rac1 recruits the WAVE complex to the plasma membrane to enable actin remodeling necessary for axon growth.