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J Cell Biol. 2003 Jan 20;160(2):255-65. Epub 2003 Jan 21.

RhoA is required for cortical retraction and rigidity during mitotic cell rounding.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology and Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


Mitotic cell rounding is the process of cell shape change in which a flat interphase cell becomes spherical at the onset of mitosis. Rearrangement of the actin cytoskeleton, de-adhesion, and an increase in cortical rigidity accompany mitotic cell rounding. The molecular mechanisms that contribute to this process have not been defined. We show that RhoA is required for cortical retraction but not de-adhesion during mitotic cell rounding. The mitotic increase in cortical rigidity also requires RhoA, suggesting that increases in cortical rigidity and cortical retraction are linked processes. Rho-kinase is also required for mitotic cortical retraction and rigidity, indicating that the effects of RhoA on cell rounding are mediated through this effector. Consistent with a role for RhoA during mitotic entry, RhoA activity is elevated in rounded, preanaphase mitotic cells. The activity of the RhoA inhibitor p190RhoGAP is decreased due to its serine/threonine phosphorylation at this time. Cumulatively, these results suggest that the mitotic increase in RhoA activity leads to rearrangements of the cortical actin cytoskeleton that promote cortical rigidity, resulting in mitotic cell rounding.

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