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Curr Biol. 2003 Mar 18;13(6):455-63.

A WASp homolog powers actin polymerization-dependent motility of endosomes in vivo.

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Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, Box 8228, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.



WASp/SCAR proteins activate the Arp2/3 complex to nucleate actin filament assembly and are thought to have important roles in endocytosis. WASp is required for efficient endocytosis of antigen receptors, N-WASp promotes actin polymerization-dependent movement of endomembrane vesicles, and Las17 (a yeast WASp homolog) is required for endocytic internalization. However, it is unknown whether movement of endosomes or other organelles requires activation of the Arp2/3 complex by members of the WASp/SCAR family.


Fluorescence video microscopy of yeast cells expressing a GFP-tagged G protein-coupled receptor (Ste2-GFP) as an endocytic marker revealed that endosomes and the lysosome-like vacuole are highly motile. Endosome/vacuole motility required actin polymerization, as indicated by sensitivity to latrunculin A, whereas microtubules were uninvolved. Endosome/vacuole motility did not require actin cables or myosin V (a MYO2 gene product), which moves secretory vesicles and the Golgi apparatus and mediates vacuole segregation. However, endosome motility required Las17, a WASp homolog. In contrast to other processes involving Las17, endosome/vacuole motility required the WCA domain of Las17, which is necessary and sufficient to activate the Arp2/3 complex.


Endosome/vacuole motility in vivo requires actin polymerization stimulated by the WASp homolog Las17. WASp/SCAR family members in mammalian cells may have similar functions. Defects in endosome/lysosome motility may contribute to deficits in lymphocyte or macrophage function observed in human patients lacking WASp or developmental defects in N-WASp-deficient mice.

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