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Hum Mol Genet. 2010 Sep 15;19(18):3591-8. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddq275. Epub 2010 Jul 14.

Interaction of retinitis pigmentosa GTPase regulator (RPGR) with RAB8A GTPase: implications for cilia dysfunction and photoreceptor degeneration.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48105, USA.


Defects in biogenesis or function(s) of primary cilia are associated with numerous inherited disorders (called ciliopathies) that may include retinal degeneration phenotype. The cilia-expressed gene RPGR (retinitis pigmentosa GTPase regulator) is mutated in patients with X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP) and encodes multiple protein isoforms with a common N-terminal domain homologous to regulator of chromosome condensation 1 (RCC1), a guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) for Ran GTPase. RPGR interacts with several ciliopathy proteins, such as RPGRIP1L and CEP290; however, its physiological role in cilia-associated functions has not been delineated. Here, we report that RPGR interacts with the small GTPase RAB8A, which participates in cilia biogenesis and maintenance. We show that RPGR primarily associates with the GDP-bound form of RAB8A and stimulates GDP/GTP nucleotide exchange. Disease-causing mutations in RPGR diminish its interaction with RAB8A and reduce the GEF activity. Depletion of RPGR in hTERT-RPE1 cells interferes with ciliary localization of RAB8A and results in shorter primary cilia. Our data suggest that RPGR modulates intracellular localization and function of RAB8A. We propose that perturbation of RPGR-RAB8A interaction, at least in part, underlies the pathogenesis of photoreceptor degeneration in XLRP caused by RPGR mutations.

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