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EMBO J. 2001 Sep 3;20(17):4973-86.

An essential role for ARF6-regulated membrane traffic in adherens junction turnover and epithelial cell migration.

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Department of Biological Sciences and the Walther Cancer Institute, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556-0369, USA.


We describe a novel role for the ARF6 GTPase in the regulation of adherens junction (AJ) turnover in MDCK epithelial cells. Expression of a GTPase-defective ARF6 mutant, ARF6(Q67L), led to a loss of AJs and ruffling of the lateral plasma membrane via mechanisms that were mutually exclusive. ARF6-GTP-induced AJ disassembly did not require actin remodeling, but was dependent on the internalization of E-cadherin into the cytoplasm via vesicle transport. ARF6 activation was accompanied by increased migratory potential, and treatment of cells with hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) induced the activation of endogenous ARF6. The effect of ARF6(Q67L) on AJs was specific since ARF6 activation did not perturb tight junction assembly or cell polarity. In contrast, dominant-negative ARF6, ARF6(T27N), localized to AJs and its expression blocked cell migration and HGF-induced internalization of cadherin-based junctional components into the cytoplasm. Finally, we show that ARF6 exerts its role downstream of v-Src activation during the disassembly of AJs. These findings document an essential role for ARF6- regulated membrane traffic in AJ disassembly and epithelial cell migration.

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