Search tips
Search criteria

Results 1-25 (42)

Clipboard (0)

Select a Filter Below

Year of Publication
more »
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.  Phagosome maturation during endosome interaction revealed by partial rhodopsin processing in retinal pigment epithelium 
Journal of Cell Science  2014;127(17):3852-3861.
Defects in phagocytosis and degradation of photoreceptor outer segments (POS) by the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) are associated with aging and retinal disease. The daily burst of rod outer segment (ROS) phagocytosis by the RPE provides a unique opportunity to analyse phagosome processing in vivo. In mouse retinae, phagosomes containing stacked rhodopsin-rich discs were identified by immuno-electron microscopy. Early apical phagosomes stained with antibodies against both cytoplasmic and intradiscal domains of rhodopsin. During phagosome maturation, a remarkably synchronised loss of the cytoplasmic epitope coincided with movement to the cell body and preceded phagosome–lysosome fusion and disc degradation. Loss of the intradiscal rhodopsin epitope and disc digestion occurred upon fusion with cathepsin-D-positive lysosomes. The same sequential stages of phagosome maturation were identified in cultured RPE and macrophages challenged with isolated POS. Loss of the cytoplasmic rhodopsin epitope was insensitive to pH but sensitive to protease inhibition and coincided with the interaction of phagosomes with endosomes. Thus, during pre-lysosomal maturation of ROS-containing phagosomes, limited rhodopsin processing occurs upon interaction with endosomes. This potentially provides a sensitive readout of phagosome–endosome interactions that is applicable to multiple phagocytes.
PMCID: PMC4150067  PMID: 25074813
RPE; Phagosome; Rhodopsin
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.  MicroRNA-Containing T-Regulatory-Cell-Derived Exosomes Suppress Pathogenic T Helper 1 Cells 
Immunity  2014;41(1):89-103.
Foxp3+ T regulatory (Treg) cells prevent inflammatory disease but the mechanistic basis of suppression is not understood completely. Gene silencing by RNA interference can act in a cell-autonomous and non-cell-autonomous manner, providing mechanisms of intercellular regulation. Here, we demonstrate that non-cell-autonomous gene silencing, mediated by miRNA-containing exosomes, is a mechanism employed by Treg cells to suppress T-cell-mediated disease. Treg cells transferred microRNAs (miRNA) to various immune cells, including T helper 1 (Th1) cells, suppressing Th1 cell proliferation and cytokine secretion. Use of Dicer-deficient or Rab27a and Rab27b double-deficient Treg cells to disrupt miRNA biogenesis or the exosomal pathway, respectively, established a requirement for miRNAs and exosomes for Treg-cell-mediated suppression. Transcriptional analysis and miRNA inhibitor studies showed that exosome-mediated transfer of Let-7d from Treg cell to Th1 cells contributed to suppression and prevention of systemic disease. These studies reveal a mechanism of Treg-cell-mediated suppression mediated by miRNA-containing exosomes.
•Foxp3+ Treg-cell-derived exosomes contain distinct miRNAs•miRNAs and the exosomal pathway are required for proficient Treg cell function•Treg-cell-derived exosomes suppress Th1 cells in a Let-7d-dependent manner
The mechanisms through which T regulatory (Treg) cells prevent inflammation are not fully understood. Okoye et al. show that Treg cells release exosomes that transfer miRNAs to target T helper cells and suppress T-cell-mediated disease.
PMCID: PMC4104030  PMID: 25035954
5.  Retinal Pigment Epithelium Defects Accelerate Photoreceptor Degeneration in Cell Type–Specific Knockout Mouse Models of Choroideremia 
In this study, the authors provide insight into the pathogenesis of choroideremia, which is caused by the disruption of intracellular vesicular transport. They also touch on other issues, such as the photoreceptor-RPE relationship and aging of the RPE.
Choroideremia (CHM) is a progressive X-linked degeneration of three ocular layers (photoreceptors, retinal pigment epithelium, and choroid), with a complex and still largely unclear pathogenesis. To investigate the pathophysiology of CHM, the authors engineered mice with a cell type–specific Chm/Rep1 knockout (KO).
A mouse line carrying a conditional allele ChmFlox was crossed with the transgenic line IRBP-Cre to achieve Chm KO, specifically in the photoreceptor layer, and Tyr-Cre to produce Chm KO, specifically in the retinal pigment epithelial and other pigmented cells. ChmFlox, Tyr-Cre+ and ChmFlox, IRBP-Cre+ mice were mated to produce mice with Chm KO in both layers. All mouse lines were studied by histology, electron microscopy, electroretinography (ERG), scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (SLO), and biochemical methods.
In ChmFlox, IRBP-Cre+ mice the authors observed the progressive degeneration of photoreceptors in the presence of normal retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). ChmFlox, Tyr-Cre+ mice exhibited coat color dilution and pigment abnormalities of the RPE in the presence of an intact outer nuclear layer. In 6- to 8-month-old ChmFlox, Tyr-Cre+, IRBP-Cre+ mice, the degeneration of photoreceptors was accelerated compared with ChmFlox, IRBP-Cre+ mice but became leveled with age, such that it was comparable at 12 to 14 months. Detailed ERG and SLO analysis supported the histopathologic findings.
Defects in photoreceptors and RPE can arise because of intrinsic defects caused cell autonomously by the Chm KO. However, when both photoreceptors and RPE are diseased, the dynamics of the degenerative process are altered. Photoreceptor functional deficit and cell death manifest much earlier, suggesting that the diseased RPE accelerates photoreceptor degeneration.
PMCID: PMC3066613  PMID: 20445111
6.  Retinal gene therapy in patients with choroideremia: initial findings from a phase 1/2 clinical trial 
Lancet  2014;383(9923):1129-1137.
Choroideremia is an X-linked recessive disease that leads to blindness due to mutations in the CHM gene, which encodes the Rab escort protein 1 (REP1). We assessed the effects of retinal gene therapy with an adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector encoding REP1 (AAV.REP1) in patients with this disease.
In a multicentre clinical trial, six male patients (aged 35–63 years) with choroideremia were administered AAV.REP1 (0·6–1·0×1010 genome particles, subfoveal injection). Visual function tests included best corrected visual acuity, microperimetry, and retinal sensitivity tests for comparison of baseline values with 6 months after surgery. This study is registered with, number NCT01461213.
Despite undergoing retinal detachment, which normally reduces vision, two patients with advanced choroideremia who had low baseline best corrected visual acuity gained 21 letters and 11 letters (more than two and four lines of vision). Four other patients with near normal best corrected visual acuity at baseline recovered to within one to three letters. Mean gain in visual acuity overall was 3·8 letters (SE 4·1). Maximal sensitivity measured with dark-adapted microperimetry increased in the treated eyes from 23·0 dB (SE 1·1) at baseline to 25·3 dB (1·3) after treatment (increase 2·3 dB [95% CI 0·8–3·8]). In all patients, over the 6 months, the increase in retinal sensitivity in the treated eyes (mean 1·7 [SE 1·0]) was correlated with the vector dose administered per mm2 of surviving retina (r=0·82, p=0·04). By contrast, small non-significant reductions (p>0·05) were noted in the control eyes in both maximal sensitivity (–0·8 dB [1·5]) and mean sensitivity (–1·6 dB [0·9]). One patient in whom the vector was not administered to the fovea re-established variable eccentric fixation that included the ectopic island of surviving retinal pigment epithelium that had been exposed to vector.
The initial results of this retinal gene therapy trial are consistent with improved rod and cone function that overcome any negative effects of retinal detachment. These findings lend support to further assessment of gene therapy in the treatment of choroideremia and other diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration, for which intervention should ideally be applied before the onset of retinal thinning.
UK Department of Health and Wellcome Trust.
PMCID: PMC4171740  PMID: 24439297
7.  Rab38 and Rab32 control post-Golgi trafficking of melanogenic enzymes 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2006;175(2):271-281.
Amutation in the small GTPase Rab38 gives rise to the mouse coat color phenotype “chocolate” (cht), implicating Rab38 in the regulation of melanogenesis. However, its role remains poorly characterized. We report that cht Rab38G19V is inactive and that the nearly normal pigmentation in cht melanocytes results from functional compensation by the closely related Rab32. In cht cells treated with Rab32-specific small interfering RNA, a dramatic loss of pigmentation is observed. In addition to mature melanosomes, Rab38 and Rab32 localize to perinuclear vesicles carrying tyrosinase and tyrosinase-related protein 1, consistent with a role in the intracellular sorting of these proteins. In Rab38/Rab32-deficient cells, tyrosinase appears to be mistargeted and degraded after exit from the trans-Golgi network (TGN). This suggests that Rab38 and Rab32 regulate a critical step in the trafficking of melanogenic enzymes, in particular, tyrosinase, from the TGN to melanosomes. This work identifies a key role for the Rab38/Rab32 subfamily of Rab proteins in the biogenesis of melanosomes and potentially other lysosome-related organelles.
PMCID: PMC2064568  PMID: 17043139
8.  Expression of OA1 limits the fusion of a subset of MVBs with lysosomes – a mechanism potentially involved in the initial biogenesis of melanosomes 
Journal of Cell Science  2013;126(22):5143-5152.
Multivesicular endosomes/bodies (MVBs) deliver proteins, such as activated EGF receptor (EGFR), to the lysosome for degradation, and, in pigmented cells, MVBs containing PMEL are an initial stage in melanosome biogenesis. The mechanisms regulating numbers and fate of different populations of MVB are unclear. Here, we focus on the role of the G-protein-coupled receptor OA1 (also known as GPR143), which is expressed exclusively in pigmented cells and mutations in which cause the most common type of ocular albinism. When exogenously expressing PMEL, HeLa cells have been shown to form MVBs resembling early stage melanosomes. To focus on the role of OA1 in the initial stages of melanosome biogenesis we take advantage of the absence of the later stages of melanosome maturation in HeLa cells to determine whether OA1 activity can regulate MVB number and fate. Expression of wild-type but not OA1 mutants carrying inactivating mutations or deletions causes MVB numbers to increase. Whereas OA1 expression has no effect on delivery of EGFR-containing MVBs to the lysosome, it inhibits the lysosomal delivery of PMEL and PMEL-containing MVBs accumulate. We propose that OA1 activity delays delivery of PMEL-containing MVBs to the lysosome to allow time for melanin synthesis and commitment to melanosome biogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3828590  PMID: 24006264
Lysosomes; Multivesicular bodies; OA1
9.  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
10.  Rab27b Regulates Mast Cell Granule Dynamics and Secretion 
Traffic (Copenhagen, Denmark)  2007;8(7):883-892.
The Rab GTPase family regulates membrane domain organization and vesicular transport pathways. Recent studies indicate that one member of the family, Rab27a, regulates transport of lysosome-related organelles in specialized cells, such as melanosomes and lytic granules. Very little is known about the related isoform, Rab27b. Here we used genetically modified mice to study the involvement of the Rab27 proteins in mast cells, which play key roles in allergic responses. Both Rab27a and Rab27b isoforms are expressed in bone marrow-derived mast cells (BMMC) and localize to secretory granules. Nevertheless, secretory defects as measured by β-hexosaminidase release in vitro and passive cutaneous anaphylaxis in vivo were found only in Rab27b and double Rab27 knockout (KO) mice. Immunofluorescence studies suggest that a subset of Rab27b and double Rab27-deficient BMMCs exhibit mild clustering of granules. Quantitative analysis of live-cell time-lapse imaging revealed that BMMCs derived from double Rab27 KO mice showed almost 10-fold increase in granules exhibiting fast movement (>1.5 μm/s), which could be disrupted by nocodazole. These results suggest that Rab27 proteins, particularly Rab27b, play a crucial role in mast cell degranulation and that their action regulates the transition from microtubule to actin-based motility.
PMCID: PMC2063611  PMID: 17587407
mast cell; organelle motility; Rab27; secretion
11.  The Ternary Rab27a–Myrip–Myosin VIIa Complex Regulates Melanosome Motility in the Retinal Pigment Epithelium 
Traffic (Copenhagen, Denmark)  2007;8(5):486-499.
The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) contains melanosomes similar to those found in the skin melanocytes, which undergo dramatic light-dependent movements in fish and amphibians. In mammals, those movements are more subtle and appear to be regulated by the Rab27a GTPase and the unconventional myosin, Myosin VIIa (MyoVIIa). Here we address the hypothesis that a recently identified Rab27a- and MyoVIIa-interacting protein, Myrip, promotes the formation of a functional tripartite complex. In heterologous cultured cells, all three proteins co-immunoprecipitated following overexpression. Rab27a and Myrip localize to the peripheral membrane of RPE melanosomes as observed by immunofluorescence and immunoelectron microscopy. Melanosome dynamics were studied using live-cell imaging of mouse RPE primary cultures. Wild-type RPE melanosomes exhibited either stationary or slow movement interrupted by bursts of fast movement, with a peripheral directionality trend. Nocodazole treatment led to melanosome paralysis, suggesting that movement requires microtubule motors. Significant and similar alterations in melanosome dynamics were observed when any one of the three components of the complex was missing, as studied in ashen- (Rab27a defective) and shaker-1 (MyoVIIa mutant)-derived RPE cells, and in wild-type RPE cells transduced with adenovirus carrying specific sequences to knockdown Myrip expression. We observed a significant increase in the number of motile melanosomes, exhibiting more frequent and prolonged bursts of fast movement, and inversion of directionality. Similar alterations were observed upon cytochalasin D treatment, suggesting that the Rab27a–Myrip–MyoVIIa complex regulates tethering of melanosomes onto actin filaments, a process that ensures melanosome movement towards the cell periphery.
PMCID: PMC1920545  PMID: 17451552
melanosome motility; Myrip; Rab27a; RPE
12.  Independent degeneration of photoreceptors and retinal pigment epithelium in conditional knockout mouse models of choroideremia 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2006;116(2):386-394.
Choroideremia (CHM) is an X-linked degeneration of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), photoreceptors, and choroid, caused by loss of function of the CHM/REP1 gene. REP1 is involved in lipid modification (prenylation) of Rab GTPases, key regulators of intracellular vesicular transport and organelle dynamics. To study the pathogenesis of CHM and to develop a model for assessing gene therapy, we have created a conditional mouse knockout of the Chm gene. Heterozygous-null females exhibit characteristic hallmarks of CHM: progressive degeneration of the photoreceptors, patchy depigmentation of the RPE, and Rab prenylation defects. Using tamoxifen-inducible and tissue-specific Cre expression in combination with floxed Chm alleles, we show that CHM pathogenesis involves independently triggered degeneration of photoreceptors and the RPE, associated with different subsets of defective Rabs.
PMCID: PMC1326146  PMID: 16410831
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.  Functional expression of Rab escort protein 1 following AAV2-mediated gene delivery in the retina of choroideremia mice and human cells ex vivo 
Choroideremia (CHM) is an X-linked retinal degeneration of photoreceptors, the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and choroid caused by loss of function mutations in the CHM/REP1 gene that encodes Rab escort protein 1. As a slowly progressing monogenic retinal degeneration with a clearly identifiable phenotype and a reliable diagnosis, CHM is an ideal candidate for gene therapy. We developed a serotype 2 adeno-associated viral vector AAV2/2-CBA-REP1, which expresses REP1 under control of CMV-enhanced chicken β-actin promoter (CBA) augmented by a Woodchuck hepatitis virus post-transcriptional regulatory element. We show that the AAV2/2-CBA-REP1 vector provides strong and functional transgene expression in the D17 dog osteosarcoma cell line, CHM patient fibroblasts and CHM mouse RPE cells in vitro and in vivo. The ability to transduce human photoreceptors highly effectively with this expression cassette was confirmed in AAV2/2-CBA-GFP transduced human retinal explants ex vivo. Electroretinogram (ERG) analysis of AAV2/2-CBA-REP1 and AAV2/2-CBA-GFP-injected wild-type mouse eyes did not show toxic effects resulting from REP1 overexpression. Subretinal injections of AAV2/2-CBA-REP1 into CHM mouse retinas led to a significant increase in a- and b-wave of ERG responses in comparison to sham-injected eyes confirming that AAV2/2-CBA-REP1 is a promising vector suitable for choroideremia gene therapy in human clinical trials.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00109-013-1006-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3695676  PMID: 23756766
Rab escort protein 1; Gene therapy; Choroideremia; Rab GTPase; Retinitis pigmentosa; AAV
15.  Correction: Conditional Ablation of the Choroideremia Gene Causes Age-Related Changes in Mouse Retinal Pigment Epithelium 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):10.1371/annotation/83a88285-e6a0-41fb-ae67-4315c21e5090.
PMCID: PMC3654017
16.  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
17.  Conditional Ablation of the Choroideremia Gene Causes Age-Related Changes in Mouse Retinal Pigment Epithelium 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e57769.
The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) is a pigmented monolayer of cells lying between the photoreceptors and a layer of fenestrated capillaries, the choriocapillaris. Choroideremia (CHM) is an X-linked progressive degeneration of these three layers caused by the loss of function of Rab Escort protein-1 (REP1). REP1 is involved in the prenylation of Rab proteins, key regulators of membrane trafficking. To study the pathological consequences of chronic disruption of membrane traffic in the RPE we used a cell type-specific knock-out mouse model of the disease, where the Chm/Rep1 gene is deleted only in pigmented cells (ChmFlox, Tyr-Cre+). Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) was used to quantitate the melanosome distribution in the RPE and immunofluorescent staining of rhodopsin was used to quantitate phagocytosed rod outer segments in retinal sections. The ultrastructure of the RPE and Bruch’s membrane at different ages was characterised by TEM to analyse age-related changes occurring as a result of defects in membrane traffic pathways. Chm/Rep1 gene knockout in RPE cells resulted in reduced numbers of melanosomes in the apical processes and delayed phagosome degradation. In addition, the RPE accumulated pathological changes at 5–6 months of age similar to those observed in 2-year old controls. These included the intracellular accumulation of lipofuscin-containing deposits, disorganised basal infoldings and the extracellular accumulation of basal laminar and basal linear deposits. The phenotype of the ChmFlox, Tyr-Cre+ mice suggests that loss of the Chm/Rep1 gene causes premature accumulation of features of aging in the RPE. Furthermore, the striking similarities between the present observations and some of the phenotypes reported in age-related macular degeneration (AMD) suggest that membrane traffic defects may contribute to the pathogenesis of AMD.
PMCID: PMC3584022  PMID: 23460904
18.  Novel functions for Rab GTPases in multiple aspects of tumour progression 
Biochemical Society Transactions  2012;40(Pt 6):1398-1403.
Rab GTPases are master regulators of intracellular trafficking and, in recent years, their role in the control of different aspects of tumour progression has emerged. In the present review, we show that Rab GTPases are disregulated in many cancers and have central roles in tumour cell migration, invasion, proliferation, communication with stromal cells and the development of drug resistance. As a consequence, Rab proteins may be novel potential candidates for the development of anticancer drugs and, in this context, the preliminary results obtained with an inhibitor of Rab function are also discussed.
PMCID: PMC3554041  PMID: 23176488
cancer; exosome; invasion; migration; Rab GTPase; tumour microenvironment; CAF, cancer-associated fibroblast; ECM, extracellular matrix; EGFR, epidermal growth factor receptor; GAP, GTPase-activating protein; GEF, guanine-nucleotide-exchange factor; MDR, multidrug resistance; miRNA, microRNA; MMP, matrix metalloproteinase; MT1-MMP, membrane-type 1 MMP; P-gp, P-glycoprotein; RabGGTase, Rab geranylgeranyltransferase; RCP, Rab-coupling protein; Shh, Sonic Hedgehog
19.  Bacteria and Protozoa Differentially Modulate the Expression of Rab Proteins 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e39858.
Phagocytic cells represent an important line of innate defense against microorganisms. Uptake of microorganisms by these cells involves the formation of a phagosome that matures by fusing with endocytic compartments, resulting in killing of the enclosed microbe. Small GTPases of the Rab family are key regulators of vesicular trafficking in the endocytic pathway. Intracellular pathogens can interfere with the function of these proteins in order to subvert host immune responses. However, it is unknown if this subversion can be achieved through the modulation of Rab gene expression. We compared the expression level of 23 distinct Rab GTPases in mouse macrophages after infection with the protozoan Plasmodium berghei, and the bacteria Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica. We found that P. berghei induces an increase in the expression of a different set of Rab genes than E. coli and S. enterica, which behaved similarly. Strikingly, when one of the Rab proteins whose expression was increased by P. berghei, namely Rab14, was silenced, we observed a significant increase in the phagocytosis of P. berghei, whereas Rab14 overexpression led to a decrease in phagocytosis. This suggests that the parasite might induce the increase of Rab14 expression for its own advantage. Similarly, when Rab9a, whose expression was increased by E. coli and S. enterica, was silenced, we observed an increase in the phagocytosis of both bacterial species, whereas Rab9a overexpression caused a reduction in phagocytosis. This further suggests that the modulation of Rab gene expression could represent a mechanism of immune evasion. Thus, our study analyzes the modulation of Rab gene expression induced by bacteria and protozoa and suggests that this modulation could be necessary for the success of microbial infection.
PMCID: PMC3401185  PMID: 22911692
20.  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
21.  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
22.  Thousands of Rab GTPases for the Cell Biologist 
PLoS Computational Biology  2011;7(10):e1002217.
Rab proteins are small GTPases that act as essential regulators of vesicular trafficking. 44 subfamilies are known in humans, performing specific sets of functions at distinct subcellular localisations and tissues. Rab function is conserved even amongst distant orthologs. Hence, the annotation of Rabs yields functional predictions about the cell biology of trafficking. So far, annotating Rabs has been a laborious manual task not feasible for current and future genomic output of deep sequencing technologies. We developed, validated and benchmarked the Rabifier, an automated bioinformatic pipeline for the identification and classification of Rabs, which achieves up to 90% classification accuracy. We cataloged roughly 8.000 Rabs from 247 genomes covering the entire eukaryotic tree. The full Rab database and a web tool implementing the pipeline are publicly available at For the first time, we describe and analyse the evolution of Rabs in a dataset covering the whole eukaryotic phylogeny. We found a highly dynamic family undergoing frequent taxon-specific expansions and losses. We dated the origin of human subfamilies using phylogenetic profiling, which enlarged the Rab repertoire of the Last Eukaryotic Common Ancestor with Rab14, 32 and RabL4. Furthermore, a detailed analysis of the Choanoflagellate Monosiga brevicollis Rab family pinpointed the changes that accompanied the emergence of Metazoan multicellularity, mainly an important expansion and specialisation of the secretory pathway. Lastly, we experimentally establish tissue specificity in expression of mouse Rabs and show that neo-functionalisation best explains the emergence of new human Rab subfamilies. With the Rabifier and RabDB, we provide tools that easily allows non-bioinformaticians to integrate thousands of Rabs in their analyses. RabDB is designed to enable the cell biology community to keep pace with the increasing number of fully-sequenced genomes and change the scale at which we perform comparative analysis in cell biology.
Author Summary
Intracellular compartmentalisation via membrane-delimited organelles is a fundamental feature of the eukaryotic cell. Understanding its origins and specialisation into functionally distinct compartments is a major challenge in evolutionary cell biology. We focus on the Rab enzymes, critical organisers of the trafficking pathways that link the endomembrane system. Rabs form a large family of evolutionarily related proteins, regulating distinct steps in vesicle transport. They mark pathways and organelles due to their specific subcellular and tissue localisation. We propose a solution to the problem of identifying and annotating Rabs in hundreds of sequenced genomes. We developed an accurate bioinformatics pipeline that is able to take into account pre-existing and often inconsistent, manual annotations. We made it available to the community in form of a web tool, as well as a database containing thousands of Rabs assigned to sub-families, which yields clear functional predictions. Thousands of Rabs allow for a new level of analysis. We illustrate this by characterising for the first time the global evolutionary dynamics of the Rab family. We dated the emergence of subfamilies and suggest that the Rab family expands by duplicates acquiring new functions.
PMCID: PMC3192815  PMID: 22022256
23.  Effect of the Secretory Small GTPase Rab27B on Breast Cancer Growth, Invasion, and Metastasis 
Secretory GTPases like Rab27B control vesicle exocytosis and deliver critical proinvasive growth regulators into the tumor microenvironment. The expression and role of Rab27B in breast cancer were unknown.
Expression of green fluorescent protein (GFP) fused with wild-type Rab3D, Rab27A, or Rab27B, or Rab27B point mutants defective in GTP/GDP binding or geranylgeranylation, or transient silencing RNA to the same proteins was used to study Rab27B in estrogen receptor (ER)–positive human breast cancer cell lines (MCF-7, T47D, and ZR75.1). Cell cycle progression was evaluated by flow cytometry, western blotting, and measurement of cell proliferation rates, and invasion was assessed using Matrigel and native type I collagen substrates. Orthotopic tumor growth, local invasion, and metastasis were analyzed in mouse xenograft models. Mass spectrometry identified proinvasive growth regulators that were secreted in the presence of Rab27B. Rab27B protein levels were evaluated by immunohistochemistry in 59 clinical breast cancer specimens, and Rab3D, Rab27A, and Rab27B mRNA levels were analyzed by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction in 20 specimens. Statistical tests were two-sided.
Increased expression of Rab27B promoted G1 to S phase cell cycle transition, proliferation and invasiveness of cells in culture, and invasive tumor growth and hemorrhagic ascites production in a xenograft mouse model (n = 10; at 10 weeks, survival of MCF-7 GFP- vs GFP-Rab27B–injected mice was 100% vs 62.5%, hazard ratio = 0.26, 95% confidence interval = 0.08 to 0.88, P = .03). Mass spectrometric analysis of purified Rab27B-secretory vesicles identified heat-shock protein 90α as key proinvasive growth regulator. Heat-shock protein 90α secretion was Rab27B-dependent and was required for matrix metalloproteinase-2 activation. All Rab27B-mediated functional responses were GTP- and geranylgeranyl-dependent. Presence of endogenous Rab27B mRNA and protein, but not of Rab3D or Rab27A mRNA, was associated with lymph node metastasis (P < .001) and differentiation grade (P = .001) in ER-positive human breast tumors.
Rab27B regulates invasive growth and metastasis in ER-positive breast cancer cell lines, and increased expression is associated with poor prognosis in humans.
PMCID: PMC2886092  PMID: 20484105
24.  Impaired prenylation of Rab GTPases in the gunmetal mouse causes defects in bone cell function 
Small GTPases  2011;2(3):131-142.
Vesicular trafficking is crucial for bone resorption by osteoclasts, in particular for formation of the ruffled border membrane and for removal of the resultant bone degradation products by transcytosis. These processes are regulated by Rab family GTPases, whose activity is dependent on post-translational prenylation by Rab geranylgeranyl transferase (RGGT). Specific pharmacological inhibition of RGGT inhibits bone resorption in vitro and in vivo, illustrating the importance of Rab prenylation for osteoclast function. The gunmetal (gm/gm) mouse bears a mutation in the catalytic subunit of RGGT, causing a loss of 75% of the activity of this enzyme and hence hypoprenylation of several Rabs in melanocytes, platelets and cytotoxic T cells. We have now found that prenylation of several Rab proteins is also defective in gm/gm osteoclasts. Moreover, while osteoclast formation and cytoskeletal polarization occurs normally, gm/gm osteoclasts exhibit a substantial reduction in resorptive activity in vitro compared with osteoclasts from +/gm mice, which do not have a prenylation defect. Surprisingly, rather than the osteosclerosis that would be expected to result from defective osteoclast function in vivo, gm/gm mice exhibited a slightly lower bone mass than +/gm mice, indicating that defects in other cell types, such as osteoblasts, in which hypoprenylation of Rabs was also detected, may contribute to the phenotype. However, gm/gm mice were partially protected from ovariectomy-induced bone loss, suggesting that levels of Rab prenylation in gm/gm osteoclasts may be sufficient to maintain normal physiological levels of activity, but not pathological levels of bone resorption in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3136943  PMID: 21776414
osteoclast; bone resorption; bone; Rab; small GTPase; prenylation; gunmetal
25.  Rab27a and Rab27b Regulate Neutrophil Azurophilic Granule Exocytosis and NADPH oxidase Activity by Independent Mechanisms 
Traffic (Copenhagen, Denmark)  2009;11(4):533-547.
Neutrophils rely on exocytosis to mobilize receptors and adhesion molecules and to release microbicidal factors. This process should be strictly regulated because uncontrolled release of toxic proteins would be injurious to the host. In vivo studies showed that the small GTPase Rab27a regulates azurophilic granule exocytosis. Using mouse neutrophils deficient in Rab27a (Rab27aash/ash), Rab27b (Rab27b knockout) or both (Rab27a/b double KO), we investigated the role of the Rab27 isoforms in neutrophils. We found that both Rab27a and Rab27b deficiencies impaired azurophilic granule exocytosis. Rab27aash/ash neutrophils showed upregulation of Rab27b expression which did not compensate for the secretory defects observed in Rab27a-deficient cells suggesting that Rab27 isoforms play independent roles in neutrophil exocytosis. Total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy analysis showed that Rab27aash/ash and Rab27b knockout neutrophils have a decreased number of azurophilic granules near the plasma membrane. The effect was exacerbated in Rab27a/b double KO neutrophils. Rab27-deficient neutrophils, showed impaired activation of the NADPH oxidase at the plasma membrane although intraphagosomal ROS production was not affected. Exocytosis of secretory vesicles in Rab27-deficient neutrophils was functional, suggesting that Rab27 GTPases selectively control the exocytosis of neutrophil granules.
PMCID: PMC2937183  PMID: 20028487

Results 1-25 (42)