Research Article: Direct Activation of RhoA by Reactive Oxygen Species Requires a Redox-Sensitive Motif

Date Published: November 26, 2009

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Amir Aghajanian, Erika S. Wittchen, Sharon L. Campbell, Keith Burridge, Magdalena Bezanilla.

Abstract: Rho family GTPases are critical regulators of the cytoskeleton and affect cell migration, cell-cell adhesion, and cell-matrix adhesion. As with all GTPases, their activity is determined by their guanine nucleotide-bound state. Understanding how Rho proteins are activated and inactivated has largely focused on regulatory proteins such as guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) and GTPase activating proteins (GAPs). However, recent in vitro studies have indicated that GTPases may also be directly regulated by redox agents. We hypothesized that this redox-based mechanism occurs in cells and affects cytoskeletal dynamics, and in this report we conclude this is indeed a novel mechanism of regulating the GTPase RhoA.

Partial Text: Rho family GTPases serve as critical regulators of cell migration, cell-cell adhesion, and cell-matrix adhesion, by transmitting extracellular and intracellular signals to effectors that act on the cytoskeleton. The best characterized members of the Rho family of GTPases are RhoA, Rac1, and Cdc42; each of which is associated with unique phenotypes and functions [1], [2], [3]. As with all canonical GTPases, the activity of Rho GTPases is determined by their guanine nucleotide-bound state. Rho GTPases are activated by binding GTP, which causes a conformational change in the protein that greatly increases the affinity for downstream effector proteins. These effector proteins are components of signaling cascades which ultimately lead to modulation of cellular functions. Conversely, GDP-bound Rho GTPases are unable to bind effector proteins and are therefore inactive. The switching between “on” and “off” states is tightly controlled by regulatory proteins which interact with GTPases to regulate guanine nucleotide binding [4]. Guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) activate GTPases by promoting the dissociation of GDP to allow the binding of GTP, which is available in great excess over GDP levels in the cytoplasm. GTPase activating proteins (GAPs) promote the hydrolysis of GTP to GDP, preventing GTPase interaction with downstream effectors. GDP-dissociation inhibitors (GDIs) maintain the inactive state of the GTPase by preventing GDP-dissociation and membrane association [5]. All of these regulatory proteins are themselves affected by diverse upstream signals which serve to activate or inactivate Rho GTPase signaling pathways.

ROS and RNS have been implicated in a variety of cell signaling pathways, including growth factor signaling [6], [7], inflammation [33], engagement of integrins [34], [35], and adhesion to extracellular matrix (reviewed in [36]). Hydrogen peroxide in particular has gained considerable attention as a potent signaling molecule [37]. Hydrogen peroxide and other ROS have been shown to be generated both intracellularly and extracellularly. Extracellular ROS generated by neutrophils can act on endothelial cells to affect vascular permeability [38] and EGF receptor engagement has been shown to induce the production of extracellular peroxide which can then permeate the cell membrane to affect intracellular signaling [39], [40]. Most recently, the role of paracrine signaling by externally-produced peroxide has been shown in a zebrafish wound healing model. Niethammer et al. show that injured epithelial cells secrete peroxide (in the range of 0.5 to 50 uM) to induce leukocyte recruitment to the wound [41].



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