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Exp Cell Res. 2005 Aug 15;308(2):422-38.

Role of Rho, Rac, and Rho-kinase in phosphorylation of myosin light chain, development of polarity, and spontaneous migration of Walker 256 carcinosarcoma cells.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Bern, Murtenstr. 31, CH-3010 Bern, Switzerland.


As previously shown, constitutive activation of the small GTPase Rho and its downstream target Rho-kinase is crucial for spontaneous migration of Walker carcinosarcoma cells. We now show that after treatment of cells with either the Rho inhibitor C3 exoenzyme or the Rho-kinase inhibitor Y-27632, constitutive myosin light chain (MLC) phosphorylation is significantly decreased, correlating with inhibition of cell polarization and migration. Transfection with a dominant-negative Rho-kinase mutant similarly inhibits cell polarization and MLC phosphorylation. Transfection with a dominant-active Rho-kinase mutant leads to significantly increased MLC phosphorylation, membrane blebbing, and inhibition of cell polarization. This Rho-kinase-induced membrane blebbing can be inhibited by Y-27632, ML-7, and blebbistatin. Unexpectedly, overactivation of RhoA has similar effects as its inhibition. Introduction of a bacterially expressed constitutively activated mutant protein (but not of wild-type RhoA) into the cells or transfection of cells with a constitutively active RhoA mutant both inhibit polarization and decrease MLC phosphorylation. Transfection of cells with constitutively active or dominant-negative Rac both abrogate polarity, and the latter inhibits MLC phosphorylation. Our findings suggest an important role of Rac, Rho/Rho-kinase, and MLCK in controlling myosin activity in Walker carcinosarcoma cells and show that an appropriate level of RhoA, Rac, and Rho-kinase activity is required to regulate cell polarity and migration.

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