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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2010 Mar 26;394(1):64-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2010.02.102. Epub 2010 Feb 19.

Cdc42p and Rho1p are sequentially activated and mechanistically linked to vacuole membrane fusion.

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Department of Cell Biology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alta, Canada.


Small monomeric GTPases act as molecular switches, regulating many biological functions via activation of membrane localized signaling cascades. Activation of their switch function is controlled by GTP binding and hydrolysis. Two Rho GTPases, Cdc42p and Rho1p, are localized to the yeast vacuole where they regulate membrane fusion. Here, we define a method to directly examine vacuole membrane Cdc42p and Rho1p activation based on their affinity to probes derived from effectors. Cdc42p and Rho1p showed unique temporal activation which aligned with distinct subreactions of in vitro vacuole fusion. Cdc42p was rapidly activated in an ATP-independent manner while Rho1p activation was kinetically slower and required ATP. Inhibitors that are known to block vacuole membrane fusion were examined for their effect on Cdc42p and Rho1p activation. Rdi1p, which inhibits the dissociation of GDP from Rho proteins, blocked both Cdc42p and Rho1p activation. Ligands of PI(4,5)P(2) specifically inhibited Rho1p activation while pre-incubation with U73122, which targets Plc1p function, increased Rho1p activation. These results define unique activation mechanisms for Cdc42p and Rho1p, which may be linked to the vacuole membrane fusion mechanism.

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