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Cell Adhes Commun. 1998;6(2-3):237-45.

The Rho GTPases in macrophage motility and chemotaxis.

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Muscle and Motility Research Centre, Randall Institute, King's College, London, UK.


The GTP-binding proteins, Rho, Rac and Cdc42 are known to regulate actin organisation. Rho induces the assembly of contractile actin-based microfilaments such as stress fibres, Rac regulates the formation of membrane ruffles and lamellipodia, and Cdc42 activation is necessary for the formation of filopodia. In addition, all three proteins can also regulate the assembly of integrin-containing focal adhesion complexes. The orchestration of these distinct cytoskeletal changes is thought to form the basis of the coordination of cell motility and we have investigated the roles of Rho family proteins in migration using a model system. We have found that in the macrophage cell line Bac1, the cytokine CSF-1 rapidly induces actin reorganisation: it stimulates the formation of filopodia, lamellipodia and membrane ruffles, as well as the appearance of fine actin cables within the cell. We have shown that Cdc42, Rac and Rho regulate the CSF-1 induced formation of these distinct actin filament-based structures. Using a cell tracking procedure we found that both Rho and Rac were required for CSF-1 stimulated cell translocation. In contrast, inhibition of Cdc42 does not prevent macrophages migrating in response to CSF-1, but does prevent recognition of a CSF-1 concentration gradient, so that cells now migrate randomly rather than up the gradient of this chemotactic cytokine. This implies that Cdc42, and thus probably filopodia, are required for gradient sensing and cell polarisation in macrophages.

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