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Genes Cells. 2008 Jun;13(6):549-69. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2443.2008.01187.x. Epub 2008 Apr 17.

Sequential activation of Rap1 and Rac1 small G proteins by PDGF locally at leading edges of NIH3T3 cells.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Division of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine, Kobe 650-0017, Japan.


Moving cells form protrusions, such as filopodia and lamellipodia, and focal complexes at leading edges, which eventually enhance cell movement. The Rho family small G proteins, Rac1, Cdc42 and RhoA, are involved in the formation of these leading edge structures. We investigated the role of another small G protein Rap1 in the platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-induced formation of leading edge structures and cell movement. Upon stimulation of NIH3T3 cells by PDGF, leading edge structures were formed and Necl-5, integrin alpha(V)beta(3), and PDGF receptor were accumulated at leading edges. Rap1, upstream regulators of Rap1 such as Crk and C3G, and a downstream effector RalGDS, were accumulated at peripheral ruffles over lamellipodia. Over-expression of Rap1GAP, which inactivates Rap1, and knockdown of Rap1 inhibited the PDGF-induced formation of leading edge structures, accumulation of these molecules, and cell movement. In addition, Rap1 activation subsequently induced accumulation of Rac1, Vav2 and PAK at peripheral ruffles, which was inhibited by Rap1GAP and knockdown of Rap1. These results indicate that Rap1, activated by PDGF, is recruited to leading edges and that Rac1 is thereby activated locally at peripheral ruffles. This process is pivotal for the PDGF-induced formation of leading edge structures and cell movement.

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