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1.  Phylogeny and evolution of Rab7 and Rab9 proteins 
Background
An important role in the evolution of intracellular trafficking machinery in eukaryotes played small GTPases belonging to the Rab family known as pivotal regulators of vesicle docking, fusion and transport. The Rab family is very diversified and divided into several specialized subfamilies. We focused on the VII functional group comprising Rab7 and Rab9, two related subfamilies, and analysed 210 sequences of these proteins. Rab7 regulates traffic from early to late endosomes and from late endosome to vacuole/lysosome, whereas Rab9 participates in transport from late endosomes to the trans-Golgi network.
Results
Although Rab7 and Rab9 proteins are quite small and show heterogeneous rates of substitution in different lineages, we found a phylogenetic signal and inferred evolutionary relationships between them. Rab7 proteins evolved before radiation of main eukaryotic supergroups while Rab9 GTPases diverged from Rab7 before split of choanoflagellates and metazoans. Additional duplication of Rab9 and Rab7 proteins resulting in several isoforms occurred in the early evolution of vertebrates and next in teleost fishes and tetrapods. Three Rab7 lineages emerged before divergence of monocots and eudicots and subsequent duplications of Rab7 genes occurred in particular angiosperm clades. Interestingly, several Rab7 copies were identified in some representatives of excavates, ciliates and amoebozoans. The presence of many Rab copies is correlated with significant differences in their expression level. The diversification of analysed Rab subfamilies is also manifested by non-conserved sequences and structural features, many of which are involved in the interaction with regulators and effectors. Individual sites discriminating different subgroups of Rab7 and Rab9 GTPases have been identified.
Conclusion
Phylogenetic reconstructions of Rab7 and Rab9 proteins were performed by a variety of methods. These Rab GTPases show diversification both at the phylogenetic, expression and structural levels. The presence of many Rab7 and Rab9 isoforms suggests their functional specialization and complexity of subcellular trafficking even in unicellular eukaryotes. The identified less conserved regions in analysed Rab sequences may directly contribute to such a differentiation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-9-101
PMCID: PMC2693434  PMID: 19442299
2.  Comprehensive Analysis Reveals Dynamic and Evolutionary Plasticity of Rab GTPases and Membrane Traffic in Tetrahymena thermophila 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(10):e1001155.
Cellular sophistication is not exclusive to multicellular organisms, and unicellular eukaryotes can resemble differentiated animal cells in their complex network of membrane-bound structures. These comparisons can be illuminated by genome-wide surveys of key gene families. We report a systematic analysis of Rabs in a complex unicellular Ciliate, including gene prediction and phylogenetic clustering, expression profiling based on public data, and Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) tagging. Rabs are monomeric GTPases that regulate membrane traffic. Because Rabs act as compartment-specific determinants, the number of Rabs in an organism reflects intracellular complexity. The Tetrahymena Rab family is similar in size to that in humans and includes both expansions in conserved Rab clades as well as many divergent Rabs. Importantly, more than 90% of Rabs are expressed concurrently in growing cells, while only a small subset appears specialized for other conditions. By localizing most Rabs in living cells, we could assign the majority to specific compartments. These results validated most phylogenetic assignments, but also indicated that some sequence-conserved Rabs were co-opted for novel functions. Our survey uncovered a rare example of a nuclear Rab and substantiated the existence of a previously unrecognized core Rab clade in eukaryotes. Strikingly, several functionally conserved pathways or structures were found to be associated entirely with divergent Rabs. These pathways may have permitted rapid evolution of the associated Rabs or may have arisen independently in diverse lineages and then converged. Thus, characterizing entire gene families can provide insight into the evolutionary flexibility of fundamental cellular pathways.
Author Summary
Single-celled organisms appear simple compared to multicellular organisms, but this may not be true at the level of the individual cell. In fact, microscopic observations suggest that protists can possess networks of organelles just as elaborate as those in animal cells. Consistent with this idea, recent analysis has identified large families of genes in protists that are predicted to act as determinants for complex membrane networks. To test these predictions and to probe relationships between cellular structures across a wide swath of evolution, we focused on one gene family in the single-celled organism Tetrahymena. These genes control the traffic between organelles, with each gene controlling a single step in this traffic. We asked three questions about each of 56 genes in the family. First, what is the gene related to in humans? Second, under what conditions is the gene being used in Tetrahymena? Third, what is the role of each gene? The results provide insights into both the dynamics and evolution of membrane traffic, including the finding that some pathways appearing both structurally and functionally similar in protists and animals are likely to have arisen independently in the two lineages.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1001155
PMCID: PMC2954822  PMID: 20976245
3.  Structural Insights into a Unique Legionella pneumophila Effector LidA Recognizing Both GDP and GTP Bound Rab1 in Their Active State 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(3):e1002528.
The intracellular pathogen Legionella pneumophila hijacks the endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-derived vesicles to create an organelle designated Legionella-containing vacuole (LCV) required for bacterial replication. Maturation of the LCV involved acquisition of Rab1, which is mediated by the bacterial effector protein SidM/DrrA. SidM/DrrA is a bifunctional enzyme having the activity of both Rab1-specific GDP dissociation inhibitor (GDI) displacement factor (GDF) and guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF). LidA, another Rab1-interacting bacterial effector protein, was reported to promote SidM/DrrA-mediated recruitment of Rab1 to the LCV as well. Here we report the crystal structures of LidA complexes with GDP- and GTP-bound Rab1 respectively. Structural comparison revealed that GDP-Rab1 bound by LidA exhibits an active and nearly identical conformation with that of GTP-Rab1, suggesting that LidA can disrupt the switch function of Rab1 and render it persistently active. As with GTP, LidA maintains GDP-Rab1 in the active conformation through interaction with its two conserved switch regions. Consistent with the structural observations, biochemical assays showed that LidA binds to GDP- and GTP-Rab1 equally well with an affinity approximately 7.5 nM. We propose that the tight interaction with Rab1 allows LidA to facilitate SidM/DrrA-catalyzed release of Rab1 from GDIs. Taken together, our results support a unique mechanism by which a bacterial effector protein regulates Rab1 recycling.
Author Summary
Legionella pneumophila delivers 275 validated substrates into the host cytosol by its Dot/Icm type IV secretion system. Several substrates including SidM/DrrA and LidA directly interact with the host Rab GTPases and interfere with the vesicle secretion pathway. SidM/DrrA is necessary for Rab1 recruitment, function as a Rab1 specific GDI displacement factor and guanine nucleotide exchange factor. LidA has the auxiliary activity for Rab1 recruitment, whereas it is more important for the formation of the replication vacuole compared with SidM/DrrA. LidA is predicted to be the first substrate secreted by the Dot/Icm system and is critical for maintaining the integrity of the bacterial cell. Moreover, it expresses throughout the intracellular growth phase, localizes to early secretory compartments, and interacts with several members of Rab family. Here we present the crystal structures of LidA coiled-coil domain in complex with two different states of Rab1, GDP- and GTP-bound. The GDP-bound Rab1 in the complex surprisingly has the same conformation with the GTP-bound Rab1, revealing that LidA can retain Rab1 persistently in its active state. Our structures add a new insight into the regulation of the host Rab1 membrane cycle by pathogen-secreted coiled-coil effector.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002528
PMCID: PMC3295573  PMID: 22416225
4.  Vimentin phosphorylation and assembly are regulated by the small GTPase Rab7a 
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta  2013;1833(6):1283-1293.
Intermediate filaments are cytoskeletal elements important for cell architecture. Recently it has been discovered that intermediate filaments are highly dynamic and that they are fundamental for organelle positioning, transport and function thus being an important regulatory component of membrane traffic. We have identified, using the yeast two-hybrid system, vimentin, a class III intermediate filament protein, as a Rab7a interacting protein. Rab7a is a member of the Rab family of small GTPases and it controls vesicular membrane traffic to late endosomes and lysosomes. In addition, Rab7a is important for maturation of phagosomes and autophagic vacuoles. We confirmed the interaction in HeLa cells by co-immunoprecipitation and pull-down experiments, and established that the interaction is direct using bacterially expressed recombinant proteins. Immunofluorescence analysis on HeLa cells indicate that Rab7a-positive vesicles sometimes overlap with vimentin filaments. Overexpression of Rab7a causes an increase in vimentin phosphorylation at different sites and causes redistribution of vimentin in the soluble fraction. Consistently, Rab7a silencing causes an increase of vimentin present in the insoluble fraction (assembled). Also, expression of Charcot–Marie–Tooth 2B-causing Rab7a mutant proteins induces vimentin phosphorylation and increases the amount of vimentin in the soluble fraction. Thus, modulation of expression levels of Rab7a wt or expression of Rab7a mutant proteins changes the assembly of vimentin and its phosphorylation state indicating that Rab7a is important for the regulation of vimentin function.
Highlights
► We searched for new Rab7a interacting proteins and we found vimentin. ► We demonstrated that Rab7a interacts directly with vimentin. ► Rab7a influences vimentin's phosphorylation and soluble/insoluble ratio. ► Rab7a regulates vimentin organization and function.
doi:10.1016/j.bbamcr.2013.02.024
PMCID: PMC3787733  PMID: 23458836
GST, Glutathione-S-Transferase; HA, Hemagglutinin; EGFP, Enhanced Green Fluorescent Protein; Rab7a; Vimentin; Rab protein; Intermediate filaments; Phosphorylation; Two-hybrid
5.  The Trypanosome Rab-Related Proteins RabX1 and RabX2 Play No Role in IntraCellular Trafficking but May Be Involved in Fly Infectivity 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(9):e7217.
Background
Rab GTPases constitute the largest subgroup of the Ras superfamily and are primarily involved in vesicle targeting. The full extent of Rab family function is unexplored. Several divergent Rab-like proteins are known but few have been characterized. In Trypanosoma brucei there are sixteen Rab genes, but RabX1, RabX2 and RabX3 are divergent within canonical sequence regions. Where known, trypanosome Rab functions are broadly conserved when orthologous relationships may be robustly established, but specific functions for RabX1, X2 and X3 have yet to be determined. RabX1 and RabX2 originated via tandem duplication and subcellular localization places RabX1 at the endoplasmic reticulum, while RabX2 is at the Golgi complex, suggesting distinct functions. We wished to determine whether RabX1 and RabX2 are involved in vesicle transport or other cellular processes.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Using comparative genomics we find that RabX1 and RabX2 are restricted to trypanosomatids. Gene knockout indicates that RabX1 and RabX2 are non-essential. Simultaneous RNAi knockdown of both RabX1 and RabX2, while partial, was also non-lethal and may suggest non-redundant function, consistent with the distinct locations of the proteins. Analysis of the knockout cell lines unexpectedly failed to uncover a defect in exocytosis, endocytosis or in the morphology or location of multiple markers for the endomembrane system, suggesting that neither RabX1 nor RabX2 has a major role in intracellular transport. However, it was apparent that RabX1 and RabX2 knockout cells displayed somewhat enhanced survival within flies.
Conclusions/Significance
RabX1 and RabX2, two members of the trypanosome Rab subfamily, were shown to have no major detectable role in intracellular transport, despite the localization of each gene product to highly specific endomembrane compartments. These data extend the functional scope of Rab proteins in trypanosomes to include non-canonical roles in differentiation-associated processes in protozoa.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007217
PMCID: PMC2748683  PMID: 19787065
6.  Rab11 Regulates the Compartmentalization of Early Endosomes Required for Efficient Transport from Early Endosomes to the Trans-Golgi Network 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2000;151(6):1207-1220.
Several GTPases of the Rab family, known to be regulators of membrane traffic between organelles, have been described and localized to various intracellular compartments. Rab11 has previously been reported to be associated with the pericentriolar recycling compartment, post-Golgi vesicles, and the trans-Golgi network (TGN). We compared the effect of overexpression of wild-type and mutant forms of Rab11 on the different intracellular transport steps in the endocytic/degradative and the biosynthetic/exocytic pathways in HeLa cells. We also studied transport from endosomes to the Golgi apparatus using the Shiga toxin B subunit (STxB) and TGN38 as reporter molecules. Overexpression of both Rab11 wild-type (Rab11wt) and mutants altered the localization of the transferrrin receptor (TfR), internalized Tf, the STxB, and TGN38. In cells overexpressing Rab11wt and in a GTPase-deficient Rab11 mutant (Rab11Q70L), these proteins were found in vesicles showing characteristics of sorting endosomes lacking cellubrevin (Cb). In contrast, they were redistributed into an extended tubular network, together with Cb, in cells overexpressing a dominant negative mutant of Rab11 (Rab11S25N). This tubularized compartment was not accessible to Tf internalized at temperatures <20°C, suggesting that it is of recycling endosomal origin. Overexpression of Rab11wt, Rab11Q70L, and Rab11S25N also inhibited STxB and TGN38 transport from endosomes to the TGN. These results suggest that Rab11 influences endosome to TGN trafficking primarily by regulating membrane distribution inside the early endosomal pathway.
PMCID: PMC2190589  PMID: 11121436
Rab11; intracellular trafficking; endosomes; Shiga toxin; TGN38
7.  Novel interaction of Rab13 and Rab8 with endospanins☆ 
FEBS Open Bio  2013;3:83-88.
Rab GTPases regulate vesicular traffic in eukaryotic cells by cycling between the active GTP-bound and inactive GDP-bound states. Their functions are modulated by the diverse selection of effector proteins that bind to specific Rabs in their activated state. We previously described the expression of Rab13 in bone cells. To search for novel Rab13 interaction partners, we screened a newborn rat bone marrow cDNA library for Rab13 effectors with a bacterial two-hybrid system. We found that Rab13 binds to the C-terminus of Endospanin-2, a small transmembrane protein. In addition to Rab13 also Rab8 bound to Endospanin-2, while no binding of Rab7, Rab10, Rab11 or Rab32 was observed. Rab13 and Rab8 also interacted with Endospanin-1, a close homolog of Endospanin-2. Rab13 and Endospanin-2 colocalised in perinuclear vesicular structures in Cos1 cells suggesting direct binding also in vivo. Endospanin-2 is implicated in the regulation of the cell surface growth hormone receptor (GHR), but the inhibition of Rab13 expression did not affect GHR cell surface expression. This suggests that the Rab13–Endospanin-2 interaction may have functions other than GHR regulation. In conclusion, we have identified a novel interaction for Rab13 and Rab8 with Endospanin-2 and Endospanin-1. The role of this interaction in cell physiology, however, remains to be elucidated.
Highlights
▸ Rab13 and Rab8 both interact with Endospanin-2 and Endospanin-1. ▸ Rab13 and Rab8 binding to endospanins is specific; Rabs 7, 10, 11 and 32 do not bind. ▸ Rab13 binding to Endospanin-2 is nucleotide-dependent. ▸ Rab13 and Endospanin-2 colocalise in perinuclear vesicles and at the cell periphery.
doi:10.1016/j.fob.2013.01.004
PMCID: PMC3668521  PMID: 23772379
Vesicle trafficking; Rab13; Rab effector; Protein interaction; Endospanin; Osteoclast; GAPDH, glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase; GFP, green fluorescent protein; GHR, growth hormone receptor; GST, glutathione-S-transferase; HA, human influenza hemagglutinin; MBP, maltose binding protein; OB-R, leptin receptor; VPS55, vacuolar protein sorting 55.
8.  An Overexpression Screen of Toxoplasma gondii Rab-GTPases Reveals Distinct Transport Routes to the Micronemes 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(3):e1003213.
The basic organisation of the endomembrane system is conserved in all eukaryotes and comparative genome analyses provides compelling evidence that the endomembrane system of the last common eukaryotic ancestor (LCEA) is complex with many genes required for regulated traffic being present. Although apicomplexan parasites, causative agents of severe human and animal diseases, appear to have only a basic set of trafficking factors such as Rab-GTPases, they evolved unique secretory organelles (micronemes, rhoptries and dense granules) that are sequentially secreted during invasion of the host cell. In order to define the secretory pathway of apicomplexans, we performed an overexpression screen of Rabs in Toxoplasma gondii and identified Rab5A and Rab5C as important regulators of traffic to micronemes and rhoptries. Intriguingly, we found that not all microneme proteins traffic depends on functional Rab5A and Rab5C, indicating the existence of redundant microneme targeting pathways. Using two-colour super-resolution stimulated emission depletion (STED) we verified distinct localisations of independent microneme proteins and demonstrate that micronemal organelles are organised in distinct subsets or subcompartments. Our results suggest that apicomplexan parasites modify classical regulators of the endocytic system to carryout essential parasite-specific roles in the biogenesis of their unique secretory organelles.
Author Summary
Eukaryotic cells evolved a highly complex endomembrane system, consisting of secretory and endocytic organelles. In the case of apicomplexan parasites unique secretory organelles have evolved that are essential for the invasion of the host cell. Surprisingly these protozoans show a paucity of trafficking factors, such as Rabs and it appears that they lost several factors involved in endocytosis. Here, we demonstrate that Rab5A and Rab5C, normally involved in endocytic uptake, actually regulate secretion in Toxoplasma gondii, since functional ablation of Rab5A or Rab5C results in aberrant transport of proteins to specialised secretory organelles called micronemes and rhoptries. Furthermore, we demonstrate that independent transport routes to micronemes exist indicating that apicomplexans have remodelled Rab5-mediated vesicular traffic into a secretory system that is essential for host cell invasion.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003213
PMCID: PMC3591302  PMID: 23505371
9.  Construction of a Plasmodium falciparum Rab-interactome identifies CK1 and PKA as Rab-effector kinases in malaria parasites 
Biology of the Cell  2011;104(1):34-47.
Background information
The pathology causing stages of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum reside within red blood cells that are devoid of any regulated transport system. The parasite, therefore, is entirely responsible for mediating vesicular transport within itself and in the infected erythrocyte cytoplasm, and it does so in part via its family of 11 Rab GTPases. Putative functions have been ascribed to Plasmodium Rabs due to their homology with Rabs of yeast, particularly with Saccharomyces that has an equivalent number of rab/ypt genes and where analyses of Ypt function is well characterized.
Results
Rabs are important regulators of vesicular traffic due to their capacity to recruit specific effectors. In order to identify P. falciparum Rab (PfRab) effectors, we first built a Ypt-interactome by exploiting genetic and physical binding data available at the Saccharomyces genome database (SGD). We then constructed a PfRab-interactome using putative parasite Rab-effectors identified by homology to Ypt-effectors. We demonstrate its potential by wet-bench testing three predictions; that casein kinase-1 (PfCK1) is a specific Rab5B interacting protein and that the catalytic subunit of cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PfPKA-C) is a PfRab5A and PfRab7 effector.
Conclusions
The establishment of a shared set of physical Ypt/PfRab-effector proteins sheds light on a core set Plasmodium Rab-interactants shared with yeast. The PfRab-interactome should benefit vesicular trafficking studies in malaria parasites. The recruitment of PfCK1 to PfRab5B+ and PfPKA-C to PfRab5A+ and PfRab7+ vesicles, respectively, suggests that PfRab-recruited kinases potentially play a role in early and late endosome function in malaria parasites.
doi:10.1111/boc.201100081
PMCID: PMC3437490  PMID: 22188458
Interactom; Kinase; Plasmodium; Rab; Yeast; Ypt
10.  Rab11-FIP2 influences multiple components of the endosomal system in polarized MDCK cells 
Cellular Logistics  2011;1(2):57-68.
The Rab11 Family Interacting Proteins (Rab11-FIPs) are hypothesized to regulate sequential steps in the apical recycling and transcytotic pathways of polarized epithelial cells. Previous studies have suggested that Rab11-FIP proteins assemble into multi-protein complexes regulating plasma membrane recycling. Rab11-FIP2 interacts with both myosin Vb and Rab11. Recent investigations have noted that that Rab11-FIP2 mutants [Rab11-FIP2(129–512), also designated Rab11-FIP2(ΔC2) and Rab11-FIP2(S229A, R413G), also designated Rab11-FIP2(SARG)], are potent inhibitors of transcytosis in polarized MDCK cells. Interestingly, Rab11-FIP2(ΔC2), but not Rab11-FIP2(SARG), also altered the morphology of the EEA-1 positive early endosomal compartment. These findings suggested that Rab11-FIP2 mutants could differentiate different points along the recycling pathway. We therefore sought to investigate whether Rab11-FIP2 is a general regulator of the early endosomal system. Both Rab11-FIP2 mutants altered the localization and co-localized with dynein heavy chain. In contrast, both clathrin heavy chain and AP-1 accumulated with membranes containing Rab11-FIP2(SARG), but not with Rab11-FIP2(ΔC2). Expression of Rab11-FIP2(ΔC2), but not Rab11-FIP2(SARG), caused clustering of early endosomal markers Rab5b, Epsin 4 and IQGAP1, around a collapsed Rab11-FIP2 containing membranous cisternum. Interestingly, neither Rab11-FIP2 mutant had any effect on the distribution of Rab5a, a classical early endosome marker. The results support the view that Rab11-FIP2 may influence microtubule-dependent centripetal movement of subsets of early endosomes as well as processing through the common and recycling endosomal systems.
doi:10.4161/cl.1.2.15289
PMCID: PMC3116584  PMID: 21686255
Rab11-FIP2; Rab11; trafficking; apical recycling; endosome; MDCK cells; clathrin; dynein; Rab5; epsin
11.  The Glyceraldehyde-3-Phosphate Dehydrogenase and the Small GTPase Rab 2 Are Crucial for Brucella Replication 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(6):e1000487.
The intracellular pathogen Brucella abortus survives and replicates inside host cells within an endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-derived replicative organelle named the “Brucella-containing vacuole” (BCV). Here, we developed a subcellular fractionation method to isolate BCVs and characterize for the first time the protein composition of its replicative niche. After identification of BCV membrane proteins by 2 dimensional (2D) gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry, we focused on two eukaryotic proteins: the glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) and the small GTPase Rab 2 recruited to the vacuolar membrane of Brucella. These proteins were previously described to localize on vesicular and tubular clusters (VTC) and to regulate the VTC membrane traffic between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and the Golgi. Inhibition of either GAPDH or Rab 2 expression by small interfering RNA strongly inhibited B. abortus replication. Consistent with this result, inhibition of other partners of GAPDH and Rab 2, such as COPI and PKC ι, reduced B. abortus replication. Furthermore, blockage of Rab 2 GTPase in a GDP-locked form also inhibited B. abortus replication. Bacteria did not fuse with the ER and instead remained in lysosomal-associated membrane vacuoles. These results reveal an essential role for GAPDH and the small GTPase Rab 2 in B. abortus virulence within host cells.
Author Summary
A key determinant for intracellular pathogenic bacteria to ensure their virulence within host cells is their ability to bypass the endocytic pathway and to reach a safe replication niche. Brucella bacteria reach the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to create their replicating niche called the Brucella-containing vacuole (BCV). The ER is a suitable strategic place for pathogenic Brucella. Bacteria can be hidden from host cell defences to persist within the host, and can take advantage of the membrane reservoir delivered by the ER to replicate. Interactions between BCV and the ER lead to the presence of ER proteins on the BCV membrane. Currently, no other proteins (eukaryotic or prokaryotic) have yet been associated with the BCV membrane. Here we show that non-ER related proteins are also present on the BCV membrane, in particular, the glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) and the small GTPase Rab 2 known to be located on secretory vesicles that traffic between the ER and the Golgi apparatus. GAPDH and the small GTPase Rab 2 are involved in Brucella replication at late post-infection. Similarly, integrity of secretory vesicle trafficking is also necessary for Brucella replication. Here, we show that recruitment of the two eukaryotic proteins GAPDH and Rab 2 on BCV membranes is necessary for the establishment of the replicative niche by sustaining interactions between the ER and secretory membrane vesicles.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000487
PMCID: PMC2695806  PMID: 19557163
12.  Rab41 Is a Novel Regulator of Golgi Apparatus Organization That Is Needed for ER-To-Golgi Trafficking and Cell Growth 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71886.
Background
The 60+ members of the mammalian Rab protein family group into subfamilies postulated to share common functionality. The Rab VI subfamily contains 5 Rab proteins, Rab6a/a’, Rab6b, Rab6c and Rab41. High-level knockdown of Rab6a/a’ has little effect on the tightly organized Golgi ribbon in HeLa cells as seen by fluorescence microscopy. In striking contrast, we found Rab41 was strongly required for normal Golgi ribbon organization.
Methods/Results
Treatment of HeLa cells with Rab41 siRNAs scattered the Golgi ribbon into clustered, punctate Golgi elements. Overexpression of GDP-locked Rab41, but not wild type or GTP-locked Rab41, produced a similar Golgi phenotype. By electron microscopy, Rab41 depletion produced short, isolated Golgi stacks. Golgi-associated vesicles accumulated. At low expression levels, wild type and GTP-locked Rab41 showed little concentration in the Golgi region, but puncta were observed and most were in ruffled regions at the cell periphery. There was 25% co-localization of GTP-locked Rab41 with the ER marker, Sec61p. GDP-locked Rab41, as expected, displayed an entirely diffuse cytoplasmic distribution. Depletion of Rab41 or overexpression of GDP-locked Rab41 partially inhibited ER-to-Golgi transport of VSV-G protein. However, Rab41 knockdown had little, if any, effect on endosome-to-Golgi transport of SLTB. Additionally, after a 2-day delay, treatment with Rab41 siRNA inhibited cell growth, while overexpression of GDP-locked Rab41, but not wild type or GTP-locked Rab41, produced a rapid, progressive cell loss. In double knockdown experiments with Rab6, the Golgi ribbon was fragmented, a result consistent with Rab41 and Rab6 acting in parallel.
Conclusion
We provide the first evidence for distinctive Rab41 effects on Golgi organization, ER-to-Golgi trafficking and cell growth. When combined with the evidence that Rab6a/a’ and Rab6b have diverse roles in Golgi function, while Rab6c regulates mitotic function, our data indicate that Rab VI subfamily members, although related by homology and structure, share limited functional conservation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0071886
PMCID: PMC3735572  PMID: 23936529
13.  Regulation of Synaptic Transmission by RAB-3 and RAB-27 in Caenorhabditis elegans 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2006;17(6):2617-2625.
Rab small GTPases are involved in the transport of vesicles between different membranous organelles. RAB-3 is an exocytic Rab that plays a modulatory role in synaptic transmission. Unexpectedly, mutations in the Caenorhabditis elegans RAB-3 exchange factor homologue, aex-3, cause a more severe synaptic transmission defect as well as a defecation defect not seen in rab-3 mutants. We hypothesized that AEX-3 may regulate a second Rab that regulates these processes with RAB-3. We found that AEX-3 regulates another exocytic Rab, RAB-27. Here, we show that C. elegans RAB-27 is localized to synapse-rich regions pan-neuronally and is also expressed in intestinal cells. We identify aex-6 alleles as containing mutations in rab-27. Interestingly, aex-6 mutants exhibit the same defecation defect as aex-3 mutants. aex-6; rab-3 double mutants have behavioral and pharmacological defects similar to aex-3 mutants. In addition, we demonstrate that RBF-1 (rabphilin) is an effector of RAB-27. Therefore, our work demonstrates that AEX-3 regulates both RAB-3 and RAB-27, that both RAB-3 and RAB-27 regulate synaptic transmission, and that RAB-27 potentially acts through its effector RBF-1 to promote soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor (SNARE) function.
doi:10.1091/mbc.E05-12-1170
PMCID: PMC1474797  PMID: 16571673
14.  A Rab1 mutant affecting guanine nucleotide exchange promotes disassembly of the Golgi apparatus 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1994;125(3):557-571.
The Golgi apparatus is a dynamic organelle whose structure is sensitive to vesicular traffic and to cell cycle control. We have examined the potential role for rab1a, a GTPase previously associated with ER to Golgi and intra-Golgi transport, in the formation and maintenance of Golgi structure. Bacterially expressed, recombinant rab1a protein was microinjected into rat embryonic fibroblasts, followed by analysis of Golgi morphology by fluorescence and electron microscopy. Three recombinant proteins were tested: wild-type rab, mutant rab1a(S25N), a constitutively GDP-bound form (Nuoffer, C., H. W. Davidson, J. Matteson, J. Meinkoth, and W. E. Balch, 1994. J. Cell Biol. 125: 225- 237), and mutant rab1a(N124I) defective in guanine nucleotide binding. Microinjection of wild-type rab1a protein or a variety of negative controls (injection buffer alone or activated ras protein) did not affect the appearance of the Golgi, as visualized by immunofluorescence of alpha-mannosidase II (Man II), used as a Golgi marker. In contrast, microinjection of the mutant forms promoted the disassembly of the Golgi stacks into dispersed vesicular structures visualized by immunofluorescence. When S25N-injected cells were analyzed by EM after immunoperoxidase labeling, Man II was found in isolated ministacks and large vesicular elements that were often surrounded by numerous smaller unlabeled vesicles resembling carrier vesicles. Golgi disassembly caused by rab1a mutants differs from BFA-induced disruption, since beta- COP remains membrane associated, and Man II does not redistribute to the ER. BFA can still cause these residual Golgi elements to fuse and disperse, albeit at a slower rate. Moreover, BFA recovery is incomplete in the presence of rab1 mutants or GTP gamma S. We conclude that GTP exchange and hydrolysis by GTPases, specifically rab1a, are required to form and maintain normal Golgi stacks. The similarity of Golgi disassembly seen with rab1a mutants to that occurring during mitosis, may point to a molecular basis involving rab1a for fragmentation of the Golgi apparatus during cell division.
PMCID: PMC2119990  PMID: 8175881
15.  AMPylation Is Critical for Rab1 Localization to Vacuoles Containing Legionella pneumophila 
mBio  2014;5(1):e01035-13.
ABSTRACT
Legionella pneumophila is an intracellular pathogen that resides within a membrane-bound compartment that is derived from vesicles exiting the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). To create this compartment, these bacteria use a type IV secretion system to deliver effector proteins that subvert host cell functions. Several Legionella effector proteins modulate the function of the host protein Rab1, which is a GTPase that is recruited to the Legionella-containing vacuole (LCV). Here, we examined which of the Rab1-directed enzymatic activities displayed by Legionella effectors are important for localizing the Rab1 protein to the LCV membrane. The guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) domain in the effector protein DrrA (SidM) was essential for Rab1 recruitment to the LCV and Rab1 AMPylation by the nucleotidyltransferase domain in DrrA was important for Rab1 retention. Legionella organisms producing mutant DrrA proteins that were severely attenuated for GEF activity in vitro retained the ability to localize Rab1 to the LCV. Rab1 localization to the LCV mediated by these GEF-defective mutants required AMPylation. Importantly, we found that efficient localization of Rab1 to the LCV occurred when Rab1 GEF activity and Rab1 AMPylation activity were provided by separate proteins. Rab1 phosphocholination (PCylation) by the effector protein AnkX, however, was unable to substitute for Rab1 AMPylation. Lastly, the defect in Rab1 localization to the LCV in AMPylation-deficient strains of Legionella was partially suppressed if the GTPase-activating protein (GAP) LepB was eliminated. Thus, our data indicate that AMPylation of Rab1 is an effective strategy to maintain this GTPase on the LCV membrane.
IMPORTANCE
Activities that enable the intracellular pathogen Legionella pneumophila to subvert the function of the host protein Rab1 were investigated. Our data show that a posttranslational modification called AMPylation is critical for maintaining a pool of Rab1 on the LCV membrane. AMPylation of Rab1 led to the accumulation of GTP-bound Rab1 on the LCV membrane by protecting the protein from inactivation by GAPs. Importantly, PCylation of Rab1 by the Legionella effector protein AnkX was neither necessary nor sufficient to maintain Rab1 on the LCV, indicating that AMPylation and PCylation represent functionally distinct activities. We conclude that modification of Rab1 by AMPylation is an effective strategy to spatially and temporally regulate the function of this GTPase on a membrane-bound organelle.
doi:10.1128/mBio.01035-13
PMCID: PMC3950522  PMID: 24520063
16.  A Rab8-specific GDP/GTP Exchange Factor Is Involved in Actin Remodeling and Polarized Membrane Transport 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2002;13(9):3268-3280.
The mechanisms mediating polarized delivery of vesicles to cell surface domains are poorly understood in animal cells. We have previously shown that expression of Rab8 promotes the formation of new cell surface domains through reorganization of actin and microtubules. To unravel the function of Rab8, we used the yeast two-hybrid system to search for potential Rab8-specific activators. We identified a coil-coiled protein (Rabin8), homologous to the rat Rabin3 that stimulated nucleotide exchange on Rab8 but not on Rab3A and Rab5. Furthermore, we show that rat Rabin3 has exchange activity on Rab8 but not on Rab3A, supporting the view that rat Rabin3 is the rat equivalent of human Rabin8. Rabin8 localized to the cortical actin and expression of Rabin8 resulted in remodeling of actin and the formation of polarized cell surface domains. Activation of PKC by phorbol esters enhanced translocation of both Rabin8 and Rab8-specific vesicles to the outer edge of lamellipodial structures. Moreover, coexpression of Rabin8 with dominant negative Rab8 (T22N) redistributes Rabin8 from cortical actin to Rab8-specific vesicles and promotes their polarized transport to cell protrusions. The C-terminal region of Rabin8 plays an essential role in this transport. We propose that Rabin8 is a Rab8-specific activator that is connected to processes that mediate polarized membrane traffic to dynamic cell surface structures.
doi:10.1091/mbc.E02-03-0143
PMCID: PMC124888  PMID: 12221131
17.  Overexpression of a Mutant Form of EhRabA, a Unique Rab GTPase of Entamoeba histolytica, Alters Endoplasmic Reticulum Morphology and Localization of the Gal/GalNAc Adherence Lectin▿  
Eukaryotic Cell  2009;8(7):1014-1026.
Entamoeba histolytica is a protozoan parasite that causes amoebic dysentery and liver abscess. Vesicle trafficking events, such as phagocytosis and delivery of plasma membrane proteins, have been implicated in pathogenicity. Rab GTPases are proteins whose primary function is to regulate vesicle trafficking; therefore, understanding the function of Rabs in this organism may provide insight into virulence. E. histolytica possesses a number of unique Rabs that exhibit limited homology to host Rabs. In this study we examined the function of one such Rab, EhRabA, by characterizing a mutant overexpressing a constitutively GTP-bound version of the protein. Overexpression of mutant EhRabA resulted in decreased adhesion to and phagocytosis of human red blood cells and in the appearance of large tubular organelles that could be stained with endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-specific but not Golgi complex-specific antibodies. Consistent with the adhesion defect, two subunits of a cell surface adhesin, the galactose/N-acetylgalactosamine lectin, were mislocalized to the novel organelle. A cysteine protease, EhCP2, was also localized to the ER-like compartment in the mutant; however, the localization of two additional cell surface proteins, Igl and SREHP, remained unchanged in the mutant. The phenotype of the mutant could be recapitulated by treatment with brefeldin A, a cellular toxin that disrupts ER-to-Golgi apparatus vesicle traffic. This suggests that EhRabA influences vesicle trafficking pathways that are also sensitive to brefeldin A. Together, the data indicate that EhRabA directly or indirectly influences the morphology of secretory organelles and regulates trafficking of a subset of secretory proteins in E. histolytica.
doi:10.1128/EC.00030-09
PMCID: PMC2708452  PMID: 19377040
18.  Rab6 and Rab11 Regulate Chlamydia trachomatis Development and Golgin-84-Dependent Golgi Fragmentation 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(10):e1000615.
Many intracellular pathogens that replicate in special membrane bound compartments exploit cellular trafficking pathways by targeting small GTPases, including Rab proteins. Members of the Chlamydiaceae recruit a subset of Rab proteins to their inclusions, but the significance of these interactions is uncertain. Using RNA interference, we identified Rab6 and Rab11 as important regulators of Chlamydia infections. Depletion of either Rab6 or Rab11, but not the other Rab proteins tested, decreased the formation of infectious particles. We further examined the interplay between these Rab proteins and the Golgi matrix components golgin-84 and p115 with regard to Chlamydia-induced Golgi fragmentation. Silencing of the Rab proteins blocked Chlamydia-induced and golgin-84 knockdown-stimulated Golgi disruption, whereas Golgi fragmentation was unaffected in p115 depleted cells. Interestingly, p115-induced Golgi fragmentation could rescue Chlamydia propagation in Rab6 and Rab11 knockdown cells. Furthermore, transport of nutrients to Chlamydia, as monitored by BODIPY-Ceramide, was inhibited by Rab6 and Rab11 knockdown. Taken together, our results demonstrate that Rab6 and Rab11 are key regulators of Golgi stability and further support the notion that Chlamydia subverts Golgi structure to enhance its intracellular development.
Author Summary
Chlamydia trachomatis is the leading cause of sexually transmitted disease and preventable blindness in humans. These bacteria survive and replicate within a membrane bound niche inside host cells, termed the inclusion. The inclusion expands as Chlamydia replicate, likely fuelled by the interception of cellular trafficking pathways to acquire essential nutrients. Certain host proteins, the Rab GTPases, have previously been observed at inclusion membranes, but the function of this host–pathogen interaction remains unknown. Here, we show distinct Rab proteins are important for the outcome of an infection. Depletion of Rab6 and Rab11 by RNA interference inhibited Chlamydia-induced fragmentation of the Golgi apparatus (GA), a key organelle functioning in the processing and packaging of cell synthesized macromolecules, accompanied by a decrease in bacterial progeny and a reduction in lipid transport to the inclusion. Our investigation of the cross-talk between Chlamydia and a host cell trafficking pathway not only further strengthens our group's previous finding that Chlamydia subverts GA structure to enhance replication, but has identified Rab6 and Rab11 as key regulators of GA stability. In the wider context, our results also raise the provocative notion of a novel anti-chlamydial treatment based on interference with GA function.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000615
PMCID: PMC2752117  PMID: 19816566
19.  Rab8, a small GTPase involved in vesicular traffic between the TGN and the basolateral plasma membrane 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1993;123(1):35-45.
Small GTP-binding proteins of the rab family have been implicated as regulators of membrane traffic along the biosynthetic and endocytic pathways in eukaryotic cells. We have investigated the localization and function of rab8, closely related to the yeast YPT1/SEC4 gene products. Confocal immunofluorescence microscopy and immunoelectron microscopy on filter-grown MDCK cells demonstrated that, rab8 was localized to the Golgi region, vesicular structures, and to the basolateral plasma membrane. Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis showed that rab8p was highly enriched in immuno-isolated basolateral vesicles carrying vesicular stomatitis virus-glycoprotein (VSV-G) but was absent from vesicles transporting the hemagglutinin protein (HA) of influenza virus to the apical cell surface. Using a cytosol dependent in vitro transport assay in permeabilized MDCK cells we studied the functional role of rab8 in biosynthetic membrane traffic. Transport of VSV-G from the TGN to the basolateral plasma membrane was found to be significantly inhibited by a peptide derived from the hypervariable COOH-terminal region of rab8, while transport of the influenza HA from the TGN to the apical surface and ER to Golgi transport were unaffected. We conclude that rab8 plays a role in membrane traffic from the TGN to the basolateral plasma membrane in MDCK cells.
PMCID: PMC2119815  PMID: 8408203
20.  Evidence for a recycling role for Rab7 in regulating a late step in endocytosis and in retention of lysosomal enzymes in Dictyostelium discoideum. 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  1997;8(7):1343-1360.
The mammalian small molecular weight GTPase Rab7 (Ypt7 in yeast) has been implicated in regulating membrane traffic at postinternalization steps along the endosomal pathway. A cDNA encoding a protein 85% identical at the amino acid level to mammalian Rab7 has been cloned from Dictyostelium discoideum. Subcellular fractionation and immunofluorescence microscopy indicated that Rab7 was enriched in lysosomes, postlysosomes, and maturing phagosomes. Cell lines were generated that overexposed Rab7 wild-type (WT), Rab7 Q67L (constitutively active form), and Rab7 T22N (dominant negative form) proteins. The Rab7 T22N cell line internalized fluid phase markers and latex beads (phagocytosis) at one-third the rate of control cells, whereas Rab7 WT and Rab7 Q67L cell lines were normal in uptake rates but exocytosed fluid phase faster than control cells. In contrast, fluid phase markers resided in acidic compartments for longer periods of time and were more slowly exocytosed from Rab7 T22N cells as compared with control cells. Light microscopy indicated that Rab7-expressing cell lines contained morphologically altered endosomal compartments. Compared with control cells, Rab7 WT- and Rab7 Q67L-expressing cells contained a reduced number of vesicles, the size of postlysosomes (> 2.5 microns) and an increased number of smaller vesicles, many of which were nonacidic; in control cells, > 90% of the smaller vesicles were acidic. In contrast, Rab7 T22N cells contained an increased proportion of large acidic vesicles relative to nonacidic vesicles. Radiolabel pulse-chase experiments indicated that all of the cell lines processed and targeted lysosomal alpha-mannosidase normally, indicating the lack of a significant role for Rab7 in the targeting pathway; however, retention of mature lysosomal hydrolases was affected in Rab7 WT and Rab7 T22N cell lines. Contrary to the results observed for the fluid phase efflux experiments, Rab7 T22N cells oversecreted alpha-mannosidase, whereas Rab7 WT cells retained this hydrolase as compared with control cells. These data support a model that Rab7 may regulate retrograde transport of lysosomal enzymes and the V-type H(+)-ATPase from postlysosomes to lysosomes coupled with the efficient release of fluid phase from cells.
Images
PMCID: PMC276157  PMID: 9243512
21.  From Sorting Endosomes to Exocytosis: Association of Rab4 and Rab11 GTPases with the Fc Receptor, FcRn, during RecyclingV⃞ 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2005;16(4):2028-2038.
A longstanding question in cell biology is how is the routing of intracellular organelles within cells regulated? Although data support the involvement of Rab4 and Rab11 GTPases in the recycling pathway, the function of Rab11 in particular is uncertain. Here we have analyzed the association of these two Rab GTPases with the Fc receptor, FcRn, during intracellular trafficking. This Fc receptor is both functionally and structurally distinct from the classical Fcγ receptors and transports immunoglobulin G (IgG) within cells. FcRn is therefore a recycling receptor that sorts bound IgG from unbound IgG in sorting endosomes. In the current study we have used dual color total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy (TIRFM) and wide-field imaging of live cells to analyze the events in human endothelial cells that are involved in the trafficking of FcRn positive (FcRn+) recycling compartments from sorting endosomes to exocytic sites at the plasma membrane. Our data are consistent with the following model for this pathway: FcRn leaves sorting endosomes in Rab4+Rab11+ or Rab11+ compartments. For Rab4+Rab11+ compartments, Rab4 depletion occurs by segregation of the two Rab proteins into discrete domains that can separate. The Rab11+FcRn+ vesicle or tubule subsequently fuses with the plasma membrane in an exocytic event. In contrast to Rab11, Rab4 is not involved in exocytosis.
doi:10.1091/mbc.E04-08-0735
PMCID: PMC1073680  PMID: 15689494
22.  Rab11A-Controlled Assembly of the Inner Membrane Complex Is Required for Completion of Apicomplexan Cytokinesis 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(1):e1000270.
The final step during cell division is the separation of daughter cells, a process that requires the coordinated delivery and assembly of new membrane to the cleavage furrow. While most eukaryotic cells replicate by binary fission, replication of apicomplexan parasites involves the assembly of daughters (merozoites/tachyzoites) within the mother cell, using the so-called Inner Membrane Complex (IMC) as a scaffold. After de novo synthesis of the IMC and biogenesis or segregation of new organelles, daughters bud out of the mother cell to invade new host cells. Here, we demonstrate that the final step in parasite cell division involves delivery of new plasma membrane to the daughter cells, in a process requiring functional Rab11A. Importantly, Rab11A can be found in association with Myosin-Tail-Interacting-Protein (MTIP), also known as Myosin Light Chain 1 (MLC1), a member of a 4-protein motor complex called the glideosome that is known to be crucial for parasite invasion of host cells. Ablation of Rab11A function results in daughter parasites having an incompletely formed IMC that leads to a block at a late stage of cell division. A similar defect is observed upon inducible expression of a myosin A tail-only mutant. We propose a model where Rab11A-mediated vesicular traffic driven by an MTIP-Myosin motor is necessary for IMC maturation and to deliver new plasma membrane to daughter cells in order to complete cell division.
Author Summary
Apicomplexan parasites are unusual in that they replicate by assembling daughter parasites within the mother cell. This involves the ordered assembly of an Inner Membrane Complex (IMC), a scaffold consisting of flattened membrane cisternae and a subpellicular network made up of microtubules and scaffold proteins. The IMC begins to form at the onset of replication, but its maturation occurs at the final stage of cytokinesis (the last step during cell division) upon the addition of motor (glideosome) components such as GAP45 (Glideosome Associated Protein), Myosin A (MyoA), and Myosin-Tail-Interacting-Protein (MTIP, also known as Myosin Light Chain 1) that are necessary to drive the gliding motility required for parasite invasion. We demonstrate that Rab11A regulates not only delivery of new plasmamembrane to daughter cells, but, importantly, also correct IMC formation. We show that Rab11A physically interacts with MTIP/MLC1, implicating unconventional myosin(s) in both cytokinesis and IMC maturation, and, consistently, overexpression of a MyoA tail-only mutant generates a default similar to that which we observe upon Rab11A ablation. We propose a model where Rab11A-mediated vesicular traffic is required for the delivery of new plasma membrane to daughter cells and for the maturation of the IMC in order to complete cell division.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000270
PMCID: PMC2622761  PMID: 19165333
23.  Myosin Va mediates Rab8A-regulated GLUT4 vesicle exocytosis in insulin-stimulated muscle cells 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2014;25(7):1159-1170.
Skeletal muscle is the main site of insulin-dependent glucose uptake. Insulin inactivation of the Akt substrate Rab-GAP AS160 leads to Rab8A activation in myocytes. The molecular motor myosin Va is a Rab8A effector in this pathway, leading to GLUT4 translocation to the myocyte surface, linking signal transduction to vesicle traffic.
Rab-GTPases are important molecular switches regulating intracellular vesicle traffic, and we recently showed that Rab8A and Rab13 are activated by insulin in muscle to mobilize GLUT4-containing vesicles to the muscle cell surface. Here we show that the unconventional motor protein myosin Va (MyoVa) is an effector of Rab8A in this process. In CHO-IR cell lysates, a glutathione S-transferase chimera of the cargo-binding COOH tail (CT) of MyoVa binds Rab8A and the related Rab10, but not Rab13. Binding to Rab8A is stimulated by insulin in a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase–dependent manner, whereas Rab10 binding is insulin insensitive. MyoVa-CT preferentially binds GTP-locked Rab8A. Full-length green fluorescent protein (GFP)–MyoVa colocalizes with mCherry-Rab8A in perinuclear small puncta, whereas GFP–MyoVa-CT collapses the GTPase into enlarged perinuclear depots. Further, GFP–MyoVa-CT blocks insulin-stimulated translocation of exofacially myc-tagged GLUT4 to the surface of muscle cells. Mutation of amino acids in MyoVa-CT predicted to bind Rab8A abrogates both interaction with Rab8A (not Rab10) and inhibition of insulin-stimulated GLUT4myc translocation. Of importance, small interfering RNA–mediated MyoVa silencing reduces insulin-stimulated GLUT4myc translocation. Rab8A colocalizes with GLUT4 in perinuclear but not submembrane regions visualized by confocal total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy. Hence insulin signaling to the molecular switch Rab8A connects with the motor protein MyoVa to mobilize GLUT4 vesicles toward the muscle cell plasma membrane.
doi:10.1091/mbc.E13-08-0493
PMCID: PMC3967978  PMID: 24478457
24.  The C. elegans Rab Family: Identification, Classification and Toolkit Construction 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49387.
Rab monomeric GTPases regulate specific aspects of vesicle transport in eukaryotes including coat recruitment, uncoating, fission, motility, target selection and fusion. Moreover, individual Rab proteins function at specific sites within the cell, for example the ER, golgi and early endosome. Importantly, the localization and function of individual Rab subfamily members are often conserved underscoring the significant contributions that model organisms such as Caenorhabditis elegans can make towards a better understanding of human disease caused by Rab and vesicle trafficking malfunction. With this in mind, a bioinformatics approach was first taken to identify and classify the complete C. elegans Rab family placing individual Rabs into specific subfamilies based on molecular phylogenetics. For genes that were difficult to classify by sequence similarity alone, we did a comparative analysis of intron position among specific subfamilies from yeast to humans. This two-pronged approach allowed the classification of 30 out of 31 C. elegans Rab proteins identified here including Rab31/Rab50, a likely member of the last eukaryotic common ancestor (LECA). Second, a molecular toolset was created to facilitate research on biological processes that involve Rab proteins. Specifically, we used Gateway-compatible C. elegans ORFeome clones as starting material to create 44 full-length, sequence-verified, dominant-negative (DN) and constitutive active (CA) rab open reading frames (ORFs). Development of this toolset provided independent research projects for students enrolled in a research-based molecular techniques course at California State University, East Bay (CSUEB).
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049387
PMCID: PMC3504004  PMID: 23185324
25.  Rab27b Is Expressed in a Wide Range of Exocytic Cells and Involved in the Delivery of Secretory Granules Near the Plasma Membrane 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2007;18(11):4377-4386.
Rab proteins regulate multiple, complex processes of membrane traffic. Among these proteins, Rab27a has been shown to function specifically in regulated exocytic pathways. However, the roles of Rab27b, another Rab27 subfamily member, have not been well characterized. We disrupted the Rab27b gene in mice. The targeting vector was designed to insert LacZ downstream of the initiation codon of the Rab27b gene so that the authentic promoter should drive this reporter gene. A comprehensive analysis of Rab27b expression using this mouse strain indicated that it is widely expressed not only in canonical secretory cells, but also in neurons and cells involved in surface protection and mechanical extension. To evaluate the function in pituitary endocrine cells where the isoform Rab27a is coexpressed, we generated Rab27a/Rab27b double knockout mice by crossing Rab27b knockout mice with Rab27a-mutated ashen mice. The polarized distribution of secretory granules close to the plasma membrane was markedly impaired in the pituitary of double knockout mice, indicating that the Rab27 subfamily is involved in the delivery of granules near the exocytic site. In conjunction with a phenotype having a pituitary devoid of the Rab27 effector granuphilin, we discuss the relationship between the residence and the releasable pool of granules.
doi:10.1091/mbc.E07-05-0409
PMCID: PMC2043558  PMID: 17761531

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