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Curr Biol. 1998 Aug 27;8(17):967-70.

Actin cytoskeleton organization regulated by the PAK family of protein kinases.

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley 94720-3202, USA.


Cdc42, Rac1 and other Rho-type GTPases regulate gene expression, cell proliferation and cytoskeletal architecture [1,2]. A challenge is to identify the effectors of Cdc42 and Rac1 that mediate these biological responses. Protein kinases of the p21-activated kinase (PAK) family bind activated Rac1 and Cdc42, and switch on mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase pathways; however, their roles in regulating actin cytoskeleton organization have not been clearly established [3-5]. Here, we show that mutants of the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae lacking the PAK homologs Ste20 and Cla4 exhibit actin cytoskeletal defects, in vivo and in vitro, that resemble those of cdc42-1 mutants. Moreover, STE20 overexpression suppresses cdc42-1 growth defects and cytoskeletal defects in vivo, and Ste20 kinase corrects the actin-assembly defects of permeabilized cdc42-1 cells in vitro. Thus, PAKs are effectors of Cdc42 in pathways that regulate the organization of the cortical actin cytoskeleton.

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