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J Cell Biol. 2011 May 16;193(4):655-65. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201011038.

RhoA and RhoC have distinct roles in migration and invasion by acting through different targets.

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Randall Division of Cell and Molecular Biophysics, King's College London, London SE1 1UL, England, UK.


Several studies suggest that RhoA and RhoC, despite their sequence similarity, have different roles in cell migration and invasion, but the molecular basis for this is not known. Using RNAi, we show that RhoA-depleted cells became elongated and extended multiple Rac1-driven narrow protrusions in 2D and 3D environments, leading to increased invasion. These phenotypes were caused by combined but distinct effects of the Rho-regulated kinases ROCK1 and ROCK2. Depletion of ROCK2 induced multiple delocalized protrusions and reduced migratory polarity, whereas ROCK1 depletion selectively led to cell elongation and defective tail retraction. In contrast, RhoC depletion increased cell spreading and induced Rac1 activation around the periphery in broad lamellipodia, thereby inhibiting directed migration and invasion. These effects of RhoC depletion are mediated by the formin FMNL3, which we identify as a new target of RhoC but not RhoA. We propose that RhoA contributes to migratory cell polarity through ROCK2-mediated suppression of Rac1 activity in lamellipodia, whereas RhoC promotes polarized migration through FMNL3 by restricting lamellipodial broadening.

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