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Dec 2011 FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

γ-Actin regulates cell migration and modulates the ROCK signaling pathway.


Shum MS, Pasquier E, Po'uha ST, O'Neill GM, Chaponnier C, Gunning PW, Kavallaris M


Cell migration plays a crucial role in numerous cellular functions, and alterations in the regulation of cell migration are required for invasive transformation of a tumor cell. While the mechanistic process of actin-based migration has been well documented, little is known as to the specific function of the nonmuscle actin isoforms in mammalian cells. Here, we present a comprehensive examination of γ-actin’s role in cell migration using an RNAi approach. The partial suppression of γ-actin expression in SH-EP neuroblastoma cells resulted in a significant decrease in wound healing and transwell migration. Similarly, the knockdown of γ-actin significantly reduced speed of motility and severely affected the cell’s ability to explore, which was, in part, due to a loss of cell polarity. Moreover, there was a significant increase in the size and number of paxillin-containing focal adhesions, coupled with a significant decrease in phosphorylated paxillin in γ-actin-knockdown cells. In addition, there was a significant increase in the phosphorylation of cofilin and myosin regulatory light chain, suggesting an overactivated Rho-associated kinase (ROCK) signaling pathway in γ-actin-knockdown cells. The alterations in the phosphorylation of paxillin and myosin regulatory light chain were unique to γ-actin and not β-actin knockdown. Inhibition of the ROCK pathway with the inhibitor Y-27632 restored the ability of γ-actin-knockdown cells to migrate. This study demonstrates γ-actin as a potential upstream regulator of ROCK mediated cell migration.

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