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J Cell Biol. 2007 Nov 5;179(3):403-10.

Positive feedback between Cdc42 activity and H+ efflux by the Na-H exchanger NHE1 for polarity of migrating cells.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Tissue Biology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


A fundamental feature of cell polarity in response to spatial cues is asymmetric amplification of molecules generated by positive feedback signaling. We report a positive feedback loop between the guanosine triphosphatase Cdc42, a central determinant in eukaryotic cell polarity, and H(+) efflux by Na-H(+) exchanger 1 (NHE1), which is necessary at the front of migrating cells for polarity and directional motility. In response to migratory cues, Cdc42 is not activated in fibroblasts expressing a mutant NHE1 that lacks H(+) efflux, and wild-type NHE1 is not activated in fibroblasts expressing mutationally inactive Cdc42-N17. H(+) efflux by NHE1 is not necessary for release of Cdc42-guanosine diphosphate (GDP) from Rho GDP dissociation inhibitor or for the membrane recruitment of Cdc42 but is required for GTP binding by Cdc42 catalyzed by a guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF). Data indicate that GEF binding to phosphotidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate is pH dependent, suggesting a mechanism for how H(+) efflux by NHE1 promotes Cdc42 activity to generate a positive feedback signal necessary for polarity in migrating cells.

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