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Cell Signal. 2009 May;21(5):695-703. doi: 10.1016/j.cellsig.2009.01.007. Epub 2009 Jan 7.

Membrane transport of WAVE2 and lamellipodia formation require Pak1 that mediates phosphorylation and recruitment of stathmin/Op18 to Pak1-WAVE2-kinesin complex.

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Molecular Cell Biology Division, Kanagawa Cancer Center Research Institute, Yokohama 241-0815, Japan.


Membrane transport of WAVE2 that leads to lamellipodia formation requires a small GTPase Rac1, the motor protein kinesin, and microtubules. Here we explore the possibility of whether the Rac1-dependent and kinesin-mediated WAVE2 transport along microtubules is regulated by a p21-activated kinase Pak as a downstream effector of Rac1. We find that Pak1 constitutively binds to WAVE2 and is transported with WAVE2 to the leading edge by stimulation with hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). Concomitantly, phosphorylation of tubulin-bound stathmin/Op18 at serine 25 (Ser25) and Ser38, microtubule growth, and stathmin/Op18 binding to kinesin-WAVE2 complex were induced. The HGF-induced WAVE2 transport, lamellipodia formation, stathmin/Op18 phosphorylation at Ser38 and binding to kinesin-WAVE2 complex, but not stathmin/Op18 phosphorylation at Ser25 and microtubule growth, were abrogated by Pak1 inhibitor IPA-3 and Pak1 depletion with small interfering RNA (siRNA). Moreover, stathmin/Op18 depletion with siRNA caused significant inhibition of HGF-induced WAVE2 transport and lamellipodia formation, with HGF-independent promotion of microtubule growth. Collectively, it is suggested that Pak1 plays a critical role in HGF-induced WAVE2 transport and lamellipodia formation by directing Pak1-WAVE2-kinesin complex toward the ends of growing microtubules through phosphorylation and recruitment of tubulin-bound stathmin/Op18 to the complex.

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