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1.  Untangling the complexity of PAK1 dynamics 
Cellular Logistics  2012;2(2):78-83.
PAK1 kinase is a crucial regulator of a variety of cellular processes, such as motility, cell division, gene transcription and apoptosis. Its deregulation is involved in several pathologies, including cancer, viral infection and neurodegenerative diseases. Due to this strong implication in human health, the complex network of signaling pathways centered on PAK1 is a subject of intensive investigations. This review summarizes the present knowledge on the multiple PAK1 intracellular localizations and on its shuttling between different compartments. The dynamics of PAK1 localization and activation are finely tuned by the cell and it is this tight control that underlies the capacity of PAK1 to participate in the regulation of many fundamental cell functions. Recently, PAK1 biosensors have been developed to visualize PAK1 activation in live cells. These new imaging tools should be of great help to better understand PAK1 biology and to conceive strategies for efficient and specific PAK1 inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3485744  PMID: 23125950
PAK1; actin cytoskeleton; motility; Rac1; cell imaging; fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET); spatiotemporal dynamics; functional microscopy; biosensor
2.  SH3BP1, an exocyst-associated RhoGAP, inactivates Rac1 at the front to drive cell motility 
Molecular cell  2011;42(5):650-661.
The coordination of the several pathways involved in cell motility is poorly understood. Here, we identify SH3BP1, belonging to the RhoGAP family, as a partner of the exocyst complex, and establish a physical and functional link between two motility-driving pathways, the Ral/exocyst and Rac signaling pathways. We show that SH3BP1 localizes together with the exocyst to the leading edge of motile cells and that SH3BP1 regulates cell migration via its GAP activity upon Rac1. SH3BP1 loss-of-function induces abnormally high Rac1 activity at the front, as visualized by in vivo biosensors, and disorganized and instable protrusions, as revealed by cell morphodynamics analysis. Consistently, constitutively active Rac1 mimics the phenotype of SH3BP1 depletion: slow migration and aberrant cell morphodynamics. Our finding that SH3BP1 down-regulates Rac1 at the motile-cell front indicates that Rac1 inactivation in this location, as well as its activation by GEF proteins, is a fundamental requirement for cell motility.
PMCID: PMC3488376  PMID: 21658605
3.  Cell motility 
The Ras proto-oncogenic proteins, prototypes of the small GTPases, work as molecular switches: they are active when bound to GTP and inactive when bound to GDP. A variety of evidence suggested that the Ras paradigm is not fully valid for the Rho-family of small GTPases. Indeed, permanent activation is not sufficient but it is rather the continuous oscillation between the GDP-bound and GTP-bound conformations (namely the GDP/GTP cycling or GTPase flux), that is required for Rho-GTPases to perform their biological functions and properly coordinate actin cytoskeleton reorganization. In our recent study, we show that Rac1 needs to cycle between the GDP and GTP states in order to efficiently control cell motility. Similarly, it was previously reported that GDP/GTP cycling is required by RhoA for cytokinesis and by Cdc42 for cell polarization. The future challenge is to understand why the GTPase flux is so important for the biological actions of Rho GTPases.
PMCID: PMC3306356  PMID: 22446552
4.  Oxidative stress promotes myofibroblast differentiation and tumour spreading 
EMBO Molecular Medicine  2010;2(6):211-230.
JunD regulates genes involved in antioxidant defence. We took advantage of the chronic oxidative stress resulting from junD deletion to examine the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in tumour development. In a model of mammary carcinogenesis, junD inactivation increased tumour incidence and revealed an associated reactive stroma. junD-inactivation in the stroma was sufficient to shorten tumour-free survival rate and enhance metastatic spread. ROS promoted conversion of fibroblasts into highly migrating myofibroblasts through accumulation of the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α transcription factor and the CXCL12 chemokine. Accordingly, treatment with an antioxidant reduced the levels of HIF and CXCL12 and numerous myofibroblast features. CXCL12 accumulated in the stroma of HER2-human breast adenocarcinomas. Moreover, HER2 tumours exhibited a high proportion of myofibroblasts, which was significantly correlated to nodal metastases. Interestingly, this subset of tumours exhibited a significant nuclear exclusion of JunD and revealed an associated oxido-reduction signature, further demonstrating the relevance of our findings in human cancers. Collectively, our data uncover a new mechanism by which oxidative stress increases the migratory properties of stromal fibroblasts, which in turn potentiate tumour dissemination.
PMCID: PMC3377319  PMID: 20535745
AP-1; SDF-1; HIF-1; stroma; metastasis
5.  RalB Mobilizes the Exocyst To Drive Cell Migration†  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2006;26(2):727-734.
The Ras family GTPases RalA and RalB have been defined as central components of the regulatory machinery supporting tumor initiation and progression. Although it is known that Ral proteins mediate oncogenic Ras signaling and physically and functionally interact with vesicle trafficking machinery, their mechanistic contribution to oncogenic transformation is unknown. Here, we have directly evaluated the relative contribution of Ral proteins and Ral effector pathways to cell motility and directional migration. Through loss-of-function analysis, we find that RalA is not limiting for cell migration in normal mammalian epithelial cells. In contrast, RalB and the Sec6/8 complex or exocyst, an immediate downstream Ral effector complex, are required for vectorial cell motility. RalB expression is required for promoting both exocyst assembly and localization to the leading edge of moving cells. We propose that RalB regulation of exocyst function is required for the coordinated delivery of secretory vesicles to the sites of dynamic plasma membrane expansion that specify directional movement.
PMCID: PMC1346891  PMID: 16382162

Results 1-5 (5)