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Eur J Cell Biol. 1999 Aug;78(8):539-48.

Inhibition of RhoGAP activity is sufficient for the induction of Rho-mediated actin reorganization.

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Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and Harvard Medical School, Charlestown 02129, USA.


It is generally believed that the induction of actin cytoskeleton rearrangements by extracellular stimuli results from the activation of guanine nucleotide exchange factors for the Rho GTPases. Here, we present evidence that the inactivation of RhoGAP (GTPase activating protein) activity is an equally effective means of promoting Rho-mediated cellular processes. We observed that exposure of cultured fibroblasts to sodium fluoride (NaF) results in a rapid and potent stimulation of actin stress fiber formation. This effect is mediated by the Rho GTPase and is associated with the inactivation of cellular RhoGAP activity. Specifically, NaF promotes formation of a high-affinity complex between Rho and the two cellular p190 RhoGAPs in vivo, apparently sequestering limiting amounts of RhoGAP activity, thereby resulting in Rho activation. p190 RhoGAP activity was found to account for approximately 60% of the total RhoGAP activity detected in whole cell extracts, indicating that relatively small changes in cellular RhoGAP activity can have potent effects on Rho activation. We also found that sub-effective concentrations of NaF combined with sub-effective concentrations of the Rho pathway activator, lysophosphatidic acid, which stimulates guanine nucleotide exchange activity on the Rho GTPase, results in the rapid induction of actin stress fibers. Together, these results suggest that the Rho GTPase is regulated by a fine balance of nucleotide exchange and RhoGAP activities, and that inactivation of RhoGAP activity may be a physiologically important regulatory mechanism for activating the Rho GTPase.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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