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1.  A role for Rab27 in neutrophil chemotaxis and lung recruitment 
BMC Cell Biology  2014;15(1):39.
Neutrophils are a critical part of the innate immune system. Their ability to migrate into infected or injured tissues precedes their role in microbial killing and clearance. We have previously shown that Rab27a can promote neutrophil migration by facilitating uropod release through protease secretion from primary granule exocytosis at the cell rear. Rab27b has been implicated in primary granule exocytosis but its role in neutrophil migration has not been investigated.
Here we found Rab27b to be expressed in bone marrow derived neutrophils and Rab27b knockout (Rab27b KO) along with Rab27a/b double knockout (Rab27DKO) neutrophils exhibited impaired transwell migration in vitro in response to chemokines MIP-2 and LTB4. Interestingly, no additional defect in migration was observed in Rab27DKO neutrophils compared with Rab27b KO neutrophils. In vivo, Rab27DKO mice displayed severe impairment in neutrophil recruitment to the lungs in a MIP-2 dependent model but not in an LPS dependent model.
These data taken together implicate Rab27b in the regulation of neutrophil chemotaxis, likely through the regulation of primary granule exocytosis.
PMCID: PMC4221698  PMID: 25359237
Rab27; Neutrophil; Chemotaxis; Exocytosis
2.  Myosin-Va and Dynamic Actin Oppose Microtubules to Drive Long-Range Organelle Transport 
Current Biology  2014;24(15):1743-1750.
In animal cells, microtubule and actin tracks and their associated motors (dynein, kinesin, and myosin) are thought to regulate long- and short-range transport, respectively [1–8]. Consistent with this, microtubules extend from the perinuclear centrosome to the plasma membrane and allow bidirectional cargo transport over long distances (>1 μm). In contrast, actin often comprises a complex network of short randomly oriented filaments, suggesting that myosin motors move cargo short distances. These observations underpin the “highways and local roads” model for transport along microtubule and actin tracks [2]. The “cooperative capture” model exemplifies this view and suggests that melanosome distribution in melanocyte dendrites is maintained by long-range transport on microtubules followed by actin/myosin-Va-dependent tethering [5, 9]. In this study, we used cell normalization technology to quantitatively examine the contribution of microtubules and actin/myosin-Va to organelle distribution in melanocytes. Surprisingly, our results indicate that microtubules are essential for centripetal, but not centrifugal, transport. Instead, we find that microtubules retard a centrifugal transport process that is dependent on myosin-Va and a population of dynamic F-actin. Functional analysis of mutant proteins indicates that myosin-Va works as a transporter dispersing melanosomes along actin tracks whose +/barbed ends are oriented toward the plasma membrane. Overall, our data highlight the role of myosin-Va and actin in transport, and not tethering, and suggest a new model in which organelle distribution is determined by the balance between microtubule-dependent centripetal and myosin-Va/actin-dependent centrifugal transport. These observations appear to be consistent with evidence coming from other systems showing that actin/myosin networks can drive long-distance organelle transport and positioning [10, 11].
Graphical Abstract
•Microtubules are essential for centripetal, but not centrifugal, melanosome transport•Myosin-Va and a dynamic actin pool drive long-range centrifugal melanosome transport•Myosin-Va is a processive plus-end-directed motor, and not a tether, in melanocytes•Opposing myosin-Va/actin and microtubule forces regulate melanosome distribution
In animal cells, microtubules and actin are thought to regulate long- and short-range transport, respectively. Here, Evans et al. test the contribution of these systems to organelle transport using melanocyte pigment granules as a model. Surprisingly, they find that myosin-Va and dynamic actin drive long-range transport to the membrane.
PMCID: PMC4131108  PMID: 25065759
3.  A Role for Na+,K+-ATPase α1 in Regulating Rab27a Localisation on Melanosomes 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102851.
The mechanism(s) by which Rab GTPases are specifically recruited to distinct intracellular membranes remains elusive. Here we used Rab27a localisation onto melanosomes as a model to investigate Rab targeting. We identified the α1 subunit of Na+,K+-ATPase (ATP1a1) as a novel Rab27a interacting protein in melanocytes and showed that this interaction is direct with the intracellular M4M5 loop of ATP1a1 and independent of nucleotide bound status of the Rab. Knockdown studies in melanocytes revealed that ATP1a1 plays an essential role in Rab27a-dependent melanosome transport. Specifically, expression of ATP1a1, like the Rab27a GDP/GTP exchange factor (Rab3GEP), is essential for targeting and activation of Rab27a to melanosomes. Finally, we showed that the ability of Rab27a mutants to target to melanosomes correlates with the efficiency of their interaction with ATP1a1. Altogether these studies point to a new role for ATP1a1 as a regulator of Rab27a targeting and activation.
PMCID: PMC4106853  PMID: 25051489
4.  Semi-Automated Analysis of Organelle Movement and Membrane Content: Understanding Rab-Motor Complex Transport Function 
Traffic (Copenhagen, Denmark)  2011;12(12):1686-1701.
Organelle motility is an essential cellular function that is regulated by molecular motors, and their adaptors and activators. Here we established a new method that allows more direct investigation of the function of these peripheral membrane proteins in organelle motility than is possible by analysis of the organelle movement alone. This method uses multi-channel time-lapse microscopy to record the movement of organelles and associated fluorescent proteins, and automatic organelle tracking, to compare organelle movement parameters with the association of membrane proteins. This approach allowed large-scale, unbiased analysis of the contribution of organelle-associated proteins and cytoskeleton tracks in motility. Using this strategy, we addressed the role of membrane recruitment of Rab GTPases and effectors in organelle dynamics, using the melanosome as a model. We found that Rab27a and Rab32/38 were mainly recruited to sub-populations of slow-moving/static and fast-moving melanosomes, respectively. The correlation of Rab27a recruitment with slow movement/docking was dependent on the effector melanophilin. Meanwhile, using cytoskeleton-disrupting drugs, we observed that this speed:Rab content relationship corresponded to a decreased frequency of microtubule (MT)-based transport and an increased frequency of actin-dependent slow movement/docking. Overall, our data indicate the ability of Rab27a and effector recruitment to switch melanosomes from MT- to actin-based tethering and suggest that a network of Rab signalling may integrate melanosome biogenesis and transport.
PMCID: PMC3264752  PMID: 21920004
actin; live-cell imaging; melanophilin; melanosome; microtubule; myosin Va; Rab GTPase
5.  Rab27a-mediated protease release regulates neutrophil recruitment by allowing uropod detachment 
Journal of Cell Science  2012;125(7):1652-1656.
Neutrophil migration is vital for immunity and precedes effector functions such as pathogen killing. Here, we report that this process is regulated by the Rab27a GTPase, a protein known to control granule exocytosis. Rab27a-deficient (Rab27a KO) neutrophils exhibit migration defects in vitro and in vivo, and live-cell microscopy suggests that delayed uropod detachment causes the migratory defect. Surface expression of CD11b, a key adhesion molecule, is increased in chemokine-stimulated Rab27a KO neutrophils compared with the control, suggesting a turnover delay caused by a defect in elastase secretion from azurophilic granules at the rear of bone marrow polymorphonuclear leukocytes (BM-PMNs). We suggest that Rab27a-dependent protease secretion regulates neutrophil migration through proteolysis-dependent de-adhesion of uropods, a mechanism that could be conserved in cell migration and invasion.
PMCID: PMC3346826  PMID: 22375060
Rab27a; Chemotaxis; Cell migration; Neutrophil; Uropod
6.  Loss of Rab27 function results in abnormal lung epithelium structure in mice 
Rab27 small GTPases regulate secretion and movement of lysosome-related organelles such as T cell cytolytic granules and platelet-dense granules. Previous studies indicated that Rab27a and Rab27b are expressed in the murine lung suggesting that they regulate secretory processes in the lung. Consistent with those studies, we found that Rab27a and Rab27b are expressed in cell types that contain secretory granules: alveolar epithelial type II (AEII) and Clara cells. We then used Rab27a/Rab27b double knockout (DKO) mice to examine the functional consequence of loss of Rab27 proteins in the murine lung. Light and electron microscopy revealed a number of morphological changes in lungs from DKO mice when compared with those in control animals. In aged DKO mice we observed atrophy of the bronchiolar and alveolar epithelium with reduction of cells numbers, thinning of the bronchiolar epithelium and alveolar walls, and enlargement of alveolar airspaces. In these samples we also observed increased numbers of activated foamy alveolar macrophages and granulocyte containing infiltrates together with reduction in the numbers of Clara cells and AEII cells compared with control. At the ultrastructural level we observed accumulation of cytoplasmic membranes and vesicles in Clara cells. Meanwhile, AEII cells in DKO accumulated large mature lamellar bodies and lacked immature/precursor lamellar bodies. We hypothesize that the morphological changes observed at the ultrastructural level in DKO samples result from secretory defects in AEII and Clara cells and that over time these defects lead to atrophy of the epithelium.
PMCID: PMC3063958  PMID: 21160031
Rab27 proteins; intracellular transport; alveolar epithelium type II cell; Clara cell
7.  A novel statin-mediated “prenylation block-and-release” assay provides insight into the membrane targeting mechanisms of small GTPases 
Ras super-family small GTPases regulate diverse cellular processes such as vesicular transport and signal transduction. Critical to these activities is the ability of these proteins to target to specific intracellular membranes. To allow association with membranes Ras-related GTPases are post-translationally modified by covalent attachment of prenyl groups to conserved cysteine residues at or near their C-terminus. Here we used the HMG-CoA (3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A) reductase (HMGCR) inhibitor mevastatin to develop a ‘prenylation block-and-release’ assay that allows membrane targeting of prenylated proteins to be visualized in living cells. Using this assay we investigated the cytosol to membrane targeting of several small GTPases to compartments of the secretory and endocytic pathways. We found that all Rabs tested were targeted directly to the membrane on which they reside at steady-state and not via an intermediate location as reported for Ras and Rho proteins. However, we observed that the kinetics of cytosol to membrane targeting differed for each Rab tested. Comparison of the mevastatin sensitivity and kinetics of membrane targeting of Rab23, Rab23 prenylation motif mutants and H-Ras revealed that these parameters are strongly dependent upon the prenyl transferase with Rab geranylgeranyl transferase substrates exhibiting higher sensitivity and requiring greater time to recover from mevastatin inhibition than farnesyl transferase substrates. We propose that this assay is a useful tool to investigate the kinetics, biological functions and the mechanisms of membrane targeting of prenylated proteins.
PMCID: PMC2908739  PMID: 20471365
GTPases; Prenylation; Statin; Trafficking; Rab proteins
8.  Defective cellular trafficking of missense NPR-B mutants is the major mechanism underlying acromesomelic dysplasia-type Maroteaux 
Human Molecular Genetics  2008;18(2):267-277.
Natriuretic peptides (NPs) comprise a family of structurally related but genetically distinct hormones that regulate a variety of physiological processes such as cardiac growth, blood pressure, axonal pathfinding and endochondral ossification leading to the formation of vertebrae and long bones. The biological actions of NPs are mediated by natriuretic peptide receptors (NPRs) A, B and C that are located on the cell surface. Mutations in NPR-B have been shown to cause acromesomelic dysplasia-type Maroteaux (AMDM), a growth disorder in humans and severe dwarfism in mice. We hypothesized that missense mutations of NPR-B associated with AMDM primarily affect NPR-B function by the arrest of receptor trafficking at the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), due to conformational change, rather than an impairment of ligand binding, transmission of signal through the membrane or catalytic activity. Twelve missense mutations found in AMDM patients and cn/cn mice were generated by site-directed mutagenesis and transiently overexpressed in HeLa cells. Confocal microscopy revealed that 11 out of 12 mutants were retained in the ER. Determination of the ligand-dependent cGMP response confirmed that ER-retained NPR-B mutants are non-functional. Meanwhile, the only cell surface-targeted NPR-B missense mutant (D176E) displayed greatly reduced enzymatic activity due to impaired ligand binding. Thus, in the majority of cases of AMDM associated with missense NPR-B mutation, disease appears to result from defects in the targeting of the ER receptor to the plasma membrane.
PMCID: PMC2638773  PMID: 18945719
9.  Rab27a and MyRIP regulate the amount and multimeric state of VWF released from endothelial cells 
Blood  2009;113(20):5010-5018.
Endothelial cells contain cigar-shaped secretory organelles called Weibel-Palade bodies (WPBs) that play a crucial role in both hemostasis and the initiation of inflammation. The major cargo protein of WPBs is von Willebrand factor (VWF). In unstimulated cells, this protein is stored in a highly multimerized state coiled into protein tubules, but after secretagogue stimulation and exocytosis it unfurls, under shear force, as long platelet-binding strings. Small GTPases of the Rab family play a key role in organelle function. Using siRNA depletion in primary endothelial cells, we have identified a role for the WPB-associated Rab27a and its effector MyRIP. Both these proteins are present on only mature WPBs, and this rab/effector complex appears to anchor these WPBs to peripheral actin. Depletion of either the Rab or its effector results in a loss of peripheral WPB localization, and this destabilization is coupled with an increase in both basal and stimulated secretion. The VWF released from Rab27a-depleted cells is less multimerized, and the VWF strings seen under flow are shorter. Our results indicate that this Rab/effector complex controls peripheral distribution and prevents release of incompletely processed WPB content.
PMCID: PMC2686148  PMID: 19270261
10.  A Coiled-Coil Domain of Melanophilin Is Essential for Myosin Va Recruitment and Melanosome Transport in Melanocytes 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2006;17(11):4720-4735.
Melanophilin (Mlph) regulates retention of melanosomes at the peripheral actin cytoskeleton of melanocytes, a process essential for normal mammalian pigmentation. Mlph is proposed to be a modular protein binding the melanosome-associated protein Rab27a, Myosin Va (MyoVa), actin, and microtubule end-binding protein (EB1), via distinct N-terminal Rab27a-binding domain (R27BD), medial MyoVa-binding domain (MBD), and C-terminal actin-binding domain (ABD), respectively. We developed a novel melanosome transport assay using a Mlph-null cell line to study formation of the active Rab27a:Mlph:MyoVa complex. Recruitment of MyoVa to melanosomes correlated with rescue of melanosome transport and required intact R27BD together with MBD exon F–binding region (EFBD) and unexpectedly a potential coiled-coil forming sequence within ABD. In vitro binding studies indicate that the coiled-coil region enhances binding of MyoVa by Mlph MBD. Other regions of Mlph reported to interact with MyoVa globular tail, actin, or EB1 are not essential for melanosome transport rescue. The strict correlation between melanosomal MyoVa recruitment and rescue of melanosome distribution suggests that stable interaction with Mlph and MyoVa activation are nondissociable events. Our results highlight the importance of the coiled-coil region together with R27BD and EFBD regions of Mlph in the formation of the active melanosomal Rab27a-Mlph-MyoVa complex.
PMCID: PMC1635380  PMID: 16914517
11.  Membrane Targeting of Rab GTPases Is Influenced by the Prenylation MotifD⃞ 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2003;14(5):1882-1899.
Rab GTPases are regulators of membrane traffic. Rabs specifically associate with target membranes via the attachment of (usually) two geranylgeranyl groups in a reaction involving Rab escort protein and Rab geranylgeranyl transferase. In contrast, related GTPases are singly prenylated by CAAX prenyl transferases. We report that di-geranylgeranyl modification is important for targeting of Rab5a and Rab27a to endosomes and melanosomes, respectively. Transient expression of EGFP-Rab5 mutants containing two prenylatable cysteines (CGC, CC, CCQNI, and CCA) in HeLa cells did not affect endosomal targeting or function, whereas mono-cysteine mutants (CSLG, CVLL, or CVIM) were mistargeted to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and were nonfunctional. Similarly, Rab27aCVLL mutant is also mistargeted to the ER and transgenic expression on a Rab27a null background (Rab27aash) did not rescue the coat color phenotype, suggesting that Rab27aCVLL is not functional in vivo. CAAX prenyl transferase inhibition and temperature-shift experiments further suggest that Rabs, singly or doubly modified are recruited to membranes via a Rab escort protein/Rab geranylgeranyl transferase-dependent mechanism that is distinct from the insertion of CAAX-containing GTPases. Finally, we show that both singly and doubly modified Rabs are extracted from membranes by RabGDIα and propose that the mistargeting of Rabs to the ER results from loss of targeting information.
PMCID: PMC165084  PMID: 12802062
13.  Functional redundancy of Rab27 proteins and the pathogenesis of Griscelli syndrome 
Griscelli syndrome (GS) patients and the corresponding mouse model ashen exhibit defects mainly in two types of lysosome-related organelles, melanosomes in melanocytes and lytic granules in CTLs. This disease is caused by loss-of-function mutations in RAB27A, which encodes 1 of the 60 known Rab GTPases, critical regulators of vesicular transport. Here we present evidence that Rab27a function can be compensated by a closely related protein, Rab27b. Rab27b is expressed in platelets and other tissues but not in melanocytes or CTLs. Morphological and functional tests in platelets derived from ashen mice are all within normal limits. Both Rab27a and Rab27b are found associated with the limiting membrane of platelet-dense granules and to a lesser degree with α-granules. Ubiquitous transgenic expression of Rab27a or Rab27b rescues ashen coat color, and melanocytes derived from transgenic mice exhibit widespread peripheral distribution of melanosomes instead of the perinuclear clumping observed in ashen melanocytes. Finally, transient expression in ashen melanocytes of Rab27a or Rab27b, but not other Rab’s, restores peripheral distribution of melanosomes. Our data suggest that Rab27b is functionally redundant with Rab27a and that the pathogenesis of GS is determined by the relative expression of Rab27a and Rab27b in specialized cell types.
PMCID: PMC151050  PMID: 12122117
14.  Rab27a Regulates the Peripheral Distribution of Melanosomes in Melanocytes 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2001;152(4):795-808.
Rab GTPases are regulators of intracellular membrane traffic. We report a possible function of Rab27a, a protein implicated in several diseases, including Griscelli syndrome, choroideremia, and the Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome mouse model, gunmetal. We studied endogenous Rab27a and overexpressed enhanced GFP-Rab27a fusion protein in several cultured melanocyte and melanoma-derived cell lines. In pigmented cells, we observed that Rab27a decorates melanosomes, whereas in nonpigmented cells Rab27a colocalizes with melanosome-resident proteins. When dominant interfering Rab27a mutants were expressed in pigmented cells, we observed a redistribution of pigment granules with perinuclear clustering. This phenotype is similar to that observed by others in melanocytes derived from the ashen and dilute mutant mice, which bear mutations in the Rab27a and MyoVa loci, respectively. We also found that myosinVa coimmunoprecipitates with Rab27a in extracts from melanocytes and that both Rab27a and myosinVa colocalize on the cytoplasmic face of peripheral melanosomes in wild-type melanocytes. However, the amount of myosinVa in melanosomes from Rab27a-deficient ashen melanocytes is greatly reduced. These results, together with recent data implicating myosinVa in the peripheral capture of melanosomes, suggest that Rab27a is necessary for the recruitment of myosinVa, so allowing the peripheral retention of melanosomes in melanocytes.
PMCID: PMC2195786  PMID: 11266470
Rab27a; GTP-binding proteins; vesicular transport; melanosome; myosinVa
15.  Rab27a Is Required for Regulated Secretion in Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2001;152(4):825-834.
Rab27a activity is affected in several mouse models of human disease including Griscelli (ashen mice) and Hermansky-Pudlak (gunmetal mice) syndromes. A loss of function mutation occurs in the Rab27a gene in ashen (ash), whereas in gunmetal (gm) Rab27a dysfunction is secondary to a mutation in the α subunit of Rab geranylgeranyl transferase, an enzyme required for prenylation and activation of Rabs. We show here that Rab27a is normally expressed in cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), but absent in ashen homozygotes (ash/ash). Cytotoxicity and secretion assays show that ash/ash CTLs are unable to kill target cells or to secrete granzyme A and hexosaminidase. By immunofluorescence and electron microscopy, we show polarization but no membrane docking of ash/ash lytic granules at the immunological synapse. In gunmetal CTLs, we show underprenylation and redistribution of Rab27a to the cytosol, implying reduced activity. Gunmetal CTLs show a reduced ability to kill target cells but retain the ability to secrete hexosaminidase and granzyme A. However, only some of the granules polarize to the immunological synapse, and many remain dispersed around the periphery of the CTLs. These results demonstrate that Rab27a is required in a final secretory step and that other Rab proteins also affected in gunmetal are likely to be involved in polarization of the granules to the immunological synapse.
PMCID: PMC2195783  PMID: 11266472
Rab27a; cytotoxic T lymphocyte; secretory lysosomes; immunological synapse; Arp2/3
16.  Chromosomal mapping, gene structure and characterization of the human and murine RAB27B gene 
BMC Genetics  2001;2:2.
Rab GTPases are regulators of intracellular membrane traffic. The Rab27 subfamily consists of Rab27a and Rab27b. Rab27a has been recently implicated in Griscelli Disease, a disease combining partial albinism with severe immunodeficiency. Rab27a plays a key role in the function of lysosomal-like organelles such as melanosomes in melanocytes and lytic granules in cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Little is known about Rab27b.
The human RAB27B gene is organised in six exons, spanning about 69 kb in the chromosome 18q21.1 region. Exon 1 is non-coding and is separated from the others by 49 kb of DNA and exon 6 contains a long 3' untranslated sequence (6.4 kb). The mouse Rab27b cDNA shows 95% identity with the human cDNA at the protein level and maps to mouse chromosome 18. The mouse mRNA was detected in stomach, large intestine, spleen and eye by RT-PCR, and in heart, brain, spleen and kidney by Northern blot. Transient over-expression of EGF-Rab27b fusion protein in cultured melanocytes revealed that Rab27b is associated with melanosomes, as observed for EGF-Rab27a.
Our results indicate that the Rab27 subfamily of Ras-like GTPases is highly conserved in mammals. There is high degree of conservation in sequence and gene structure between RAB27A and RAB27B genes. Exogenous expression of Rab27b in melanocytes results in melanosomal association as observed for Rab27a, suggesting the two Rab27 proteins are functional homologues. As with RAB27A in Griscelli Disease, RAB27B may be also associated with human disease mapping to chromosome 18.
PMCID: PMC29082  PMID: 11178108
17.  Rab27a Targeting to Melanosomes Requires Nucleotide Exchange but Not Effector Binding 
Traffic (Copenhagen, Denmark)  2011;12(8):1056-1066.
Rab GTPases are important determinants of organelle identity and regulators of vesicular transport pathways. Consequently, each Rab occupies a highly specific subcellular localization. However, the precise mechanisms governing Rab targeting remain unclear. Guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs), putative membrane-resident targeting factors and effector binding have all been implicated as critical regulators of Rab targeting. Here, we address these issues using Rab27a targeting to melanosomes as a model system. Rab27a regulates motility of lysosome-related organelles and secretory granules. Its effectors have been characterized extensively, and we have identified Rab3GEP as the non-redundant Rab27a GEF in melanocytes (Figueiredo AC et al. Rab3GEP is the non-redundant guanine nucleotide exchange factor for Rab27a in melanocytes. J Biol Chem 2008;283:23209–23216). Using Rab27a mutants that show impaired binding to representatives of all four Rab27a effector subgroups, we present evidence that effector binding is not essential for targeting of Rab27a to melanosomes. In contrast, we observed that knockdown of Rab3GEP resulted in mis-targeting of Rab27a, suggesting that Rab3GEP activity is required for correct targeting of Rab27a. However, the identification of Rab27a mutants that undergo efficient GDP/GTP exchange in the presence of Rab3GEP in vitro but are mis-targeted in a cellular context indicates that nucleotide loading is not the sole determinant of subcellular targeting of Rab27a. Our data support a model in which exchange activity, but not effector binding, represents one essential factor that contributes to membrane targeting of Rab proteins.
PMCID: PMC3509405  PMID: 21554507
effectors; guanine nucleotide exchange factor; melanosome; Rab; targeting

Results 1-17 (17)