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J Cell Biol. 2001 Jul 9;154(1):177-86.

Vav2 is required for cell spreading.

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Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, 330 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Vav2 is a widely expressed Rho family guanine nucleotide exchange factor highly homologous to Vav1 and Vav3. Activated versions of Vav2 are transforming, but the normal function of Vav2 and how it is regulated are not known. We investigated the pathways that regulate Vav2 exchange activity in vivo and characterized its function. Overexpression of Vav2 activates Rac as assessed by both direct measurement of Rac-GTP and cell morphology. Vav2 also catalyzes exchange for RhoA, but does not cause morphologic changes indicative of RhoA activation. Vav2 nucleotide exchange is Src-dependent in vivo, since the coexpression of Vav2 and dominant negative Src, or treatment with the Src inhibitor PP2, blocks both Vav2-dependent Rac activation and lamellipodia formation. A mutation in the pleckstrin homology (PH) domain eliminates exchange activity and this construct does not induce lamellipodia, indicating the PH domain is necessary to catalyze nucleotide exchange. To further investigate the function of Vav2, we mutated the dbl homology (DH) domain and asked whether this mutant would function as a dominant negative to block Rac-dependent events. Studies using this mutant indicate that Vav2 is not necessary for platelet-derived growth factor- or epidermal growth factor-dependent activation of Rac. The Vav2 DH mutant did act as a dominant negative to inhibit spreading of NIH3T3 cells on fibronectin, specifically by blocking lamellipodia formation. These findings indicate that in fibroblasts Vav2 is necessary for integrin, but not growth factor-dependent activation of Rac leading to lamellipodia.

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