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The Transforming Rho Family GTPase Wrch-1 Disrupts Epithelial Cell Tight Junctions and Epithelial Morphogenesis▿

By Donita C. Brady, Jamie K. Alan, James P. Madigan, Alan S. Fanning and Adrienne D. Cox


Wrch-1, an atypical and transforming Rho GTPase, regulates cellular activities including proliferation and actin organization, but its functions and effectors remain poorly characterized. We show here that Wrch-1 distributes along the apical and basolateral membranes in MDCK cells and binds the cell polarity protein Par6 in a GTP-dependent manner. Activated Wrch-1 negatively regulates the kinetics of tight junction (TJ) assembly during epithelial cell polarization but has no detectable effect on overall cell polarity in confluent monolayers. It also causes a dramatic cytoskeletal reorganization and multilayering in cells grown in two-dimensional culture and disrupts cystogenesis of cells grown in three-dimensional (3D) culture. Similarly, short hairpin RNA-mediated knockdown of Wrch-1 perturbs cystogenesis in 3D culture, suggesting that tight regulation of Wrch-1 activity is necessary for normal epithelial morphogenesis. A weakly transforming effector domain mutant of activated Wrch-1 that inhibits Par6 binding abrogates the ability of Wrch-1 to disrupt TJ formation, actin organization, and epithelial morphogenesis. We hypothesize that Wrch-1-induced morphological and growth transformation may occur in part through Par6-mediated disruption of TJs and actin organization

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Publisher: American Society for Microbiology (ASM)
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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