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J Immunol. 2005 Aug 15;175(4):2525-33.

Ligation of cell surface-associated glucose-regulated protein 78 by receptor-recognized forms of alpha 2-macroglobulin: activation of p21-activated protein kinase-2-dependent signaling in murine peritoneal macrophages.

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Department of Pathology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


Previous studies of the plasma proteinase inhibitor alpha2-macroglobulin (alpha2M) demonstrated that alpha2M-proteinase complexes (alpha2M*) modulate immune responses and promotes macrophage locomotion and chemotaxis. Alpha2M* binds to cell surface-associated glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78), which activates downstream signaling events. The role of p21-activated protein kinase-1 and -2 (PAK-1 and -2) in promoting cellular motility is well documented. In the current study, we examined the ability of alpha2M* to activate PAK-1 and PAK-2. Upon macrophage stimulation with alpha2M*, PAK-2 is autophosphorylated, resulting in increased kinase activity; however, PAK-1 is negligibly affected. Alpha2M*-stimulated macrophages showed a marked elevation in the levels of Rac x GTP. Receptor tyrosine phosphorylation upon binding of alpha2M* to GRP78, recruits PAK-2 to the plasma membrane via the adaptor protein NCK. Consistent with this hypothesis, silencing of GRP78 gene expression greatly attenuated the levels of membrane-associated PAK-2 and NCK. PAK-2 activity was markedly decreased by inhibition of tyrosine kinases and PI3K before alpha2M* stimulation. We further demonstrate that phosphorylation of Lin-11, Isl-1, Mec-3 (LIM) kinase and cofilin is promoted by treating macrophages with alpha2M*. Thus, alpha2M* regulates activation of the PAK-2-dependent motility mechanism in these cells.

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