The small GTPase Rap1 is involved in several aspects of cell adhesion, including integrin-mediated cell adhesion and cadherin-mediated cell junction formation. Recently, several effector proteins for Rap1 have been identified providing a clear link between Rap1 and actin dynamics. Furthermore, evidence is accumulating that Rap1 functions in the spatial and temporal control of cell polarity.
Ras-like GTPases are ubiquitously expressed, evolutionarily conserved molecular switches that couple extracellular signals to various cellular responses. Rap1, the closest relative of Ras, has attracted much attention because of the possibility that it regulates Ras-mediated signalling. Rap1 is activated by extracellular signals through several regulatory proteins, and it might function in diverse processes, ranging from modulation of growth and differentiation to secretion, integrin-mediated cell adhesion and morphogenesis.
Rap1 is a Ras-like small GTPase that is activated by many extracellular stimuli and strongly implicated in the control of integrin-mediated cell adhesion. Recent evidence indicates that Rap1 also plays a key role in formation of cadherin-based cell-cell junctions. Indeed, inhibition of Rap1 generates immature adherens junctions, whereas activation of Rap1 tightens cell-cell junctions. Interestingly, Rap1 guanine nucleotide exchange factors, such as C3G and PDZ-GEF, are directly linked to E-cadherin or to other junction proteins. Furthermore, several junction proteins, such as afadin/AF6 and proteins controlling the actin cytoskeleton, function as effectors of Rap1. These findings point to a role of Rap1 in spatial and temporal control of cell-cell junction formation.
Excitatory synapses in the brain show several forms of synaptic plasticity, including long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD), which are initiated by increases in intracellular Ca(2+) that are generated through NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors or voltage-sensitive Ca(2+) channels. LTP depends on the coordinated regulation of an ensemble of enzymes, including Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II, adenylyl cyclase 1 and 8, and calcineurin, all of which are stimulated by calmodulin, a Ca(2+)-binding protein. In this review, we discuss the hypothesis that calmodulin is a central integrator of synaptic plasticity and that its unique regulatory properties allow the integration of several forms of signal transduction that are required for LTP and LTD.
Individual cells in their particular environments adhere to the extracellular matrix (ECM) and their neighbours via integrin-containing and cadherin-containing complexes, respectively. The dynamics of these interactions regulate the formation and maintenance of complex tissues. An expanding body of evidence accentuates the role of the small Rap1 GTPase and its associated signaling network in many of these processes. In this review we will discuss more recently revealed roles of Rap1 signaling by primarily focusing on functions of the Rap1 effectors RIAM, KRIT-1/CCM1 and AF-6/Afadin in junctional regulation of the vascular system and in epithelial cells. Furthermore, we will describe novel findings on the Rap activator PDZ-GEF in the regulation of cell-cell adhesion between epithelial cells and within a stem cell niche.
The Ras superfamily of small G proteins is remarkable for both its diversity and physiological functions. One member, Rap1, has been implicated in a particularly wide range of biological processes, from cell proliferation and differentiation to cell adhesion. But the diversity of Rap1 has lead to contradictory reports of its effects. Originally identified as an antagonist of Ras-induced transformation, Rap1 can oppose other actions of Ras including regulation of cell growth and differentiation, integrin-dependent responses and synaptic plasticity. Furthermore, recent evidence confirms that Rap1, like Ras, can activate the MAP kinase cascade (ERK) in several cell types. These diverse functions of Rap1 underscore that the activation and action of Rap1 are regulated by complex factors that are cell-type specific.
Rap1 belongs to the Ras subgroup of small GTP-binding proteins. Whereas its early history has focused on its biochemical homology to Ras and the alleged functional antagonism between these two small GTPases, recent cellular evidence suggests that endogenous Rap1 plays a unique, Ras-independent role in eukaryotic cells. Activated by virtually all receptor types and second messengers, Rap1 controls adhesion-related functions such as phagocytosis, cell-cell contacts and functional activation of integrins through inside-out signalling. Whereas the precise mechanism by which its downstream effectors exert these diverse functions is unknown, Rap1 seems to fulfil the evolutionarily conserved function of patterning the eukaryotic cell, thus enabling it to respond to its environment, in particular through cytoskeletal remodelling.
Rap1 is a member of the Ras family of small GTPases that is activated by diverse extracellular stimuli in many cell types. It is activated by distinct types of Rap1 guanine nucleotide exchange factors coupled with various receptors or second messengers, while activated Rap1 is down-regulated by Rap1 GTPase-activating proteins, through which Rap1 activation is controlled spatio-temporally. Functionally, Rap1 either interferes with Ras-mediated ERK activation or activates ERK independently of Ras in a cell-context dependent manner. Accumulating evidence also indicates that Rap1 is a major activator of integrins, playing important roles in the regulation of a variety of integrin-dependent cellular functions. Most recently, significant evidence has emerged that dysregulation of Rap1 activation is responsible for the development of malignancy. Recent extensive research has begun to unveil the roles of this controversial small G protein in physiology and diseases.
Integrin adhesion receptors are critical for antigen recognition by T cells and for regulated recirculation and trafficking into and through various tissues in the body. T-cell receptor (TCR) signaling induces rapid increases in integrin function that facilitate T-cell activation by promoting stable contact with antigen-presenting cells and extracellular proteins in the environment. In this review, we outline the molecular mechanisms by which the TCR signals to integrins and present a model that highlights four key events: (i) initiation of proximal TCR signals nucleated by the linker for activated T cells (LAT) adapter protein and involving Itk, phospholipase C-gamma1, Vav1, and Src homology 2 domain-containing leukocyte-specific phosphoprotein of 76 kDa; (ii) transmission of integrin activation signals from the LAT signalosome to integrins by protein kinase (PK) C and the adapter protein, adhesion and degranulation-promoting adapter protein; (iii) assembly of integrin-associated signaling complexes that include PKD, the guanosine triphosphatase Rap1 and its effectors, and talin; and (iv) reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton by WAVE2 and other actin-remodeling proteins. These events coordinate changes in integrin conformation and clustering that result in enhanced integrin functional activity following TCR stimulation.
Rap proteins are Ras-like small GTP-binding proteins that amongst others are involved in the control of cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesion. Several Rap guanine nucleotide exchange factors (RapGEFs) function to activate Rap. These multi-domain proteins, which include C3G, Epacs, PDZ-GEFs, RapGRPs and DOCK4, are regulated by various different stimuli and may function at different levels in junction formation. Downstream of Rap, a number of effector proteins have been implicated in junctional control, most notably the adaptor proteins AF6 and KRIT/CCM1. In this review, we will highlight the latest findings on the Rap signaling network in the control of epithelial and endothelial cell-cell junctions.
The Ras-like family of small GTPases includes, among others, Ras, Rap1, R-ras, and Ral. The family is characterized by similarities in the effector domain. While the function of Ras is, at least in part, elucidated, little is known about other members of the family. Currently, much attention is focused on the small GTPase Rap1. Initially, this member was identified as a transformation suppressor protein able to revert the morphological phenotype of Ras-transformed fibroblasts. This has led to the hypothesis that Rap1 antagonizes Ras by interfering in Ras effector function. Recent analysis revealed that Rap1 is activated rapidly in response to activation of a variety of receptors. Rap1 activation is mediated by several second messengers, including calcium, diacylglycerol, and cAMP. Guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) have been identified that mediate these effects. The most interesting GEF is Epac, an exchange protein directly activated by cAMP, thus representing a novel cAMP-induced, protein kinase A-independent pathway. Furthermore, Rap1 is inactivated by specific GTPase-activating proteins (GAPs), one of which is regulated through an interaction with Galphai. While Ras and Rap1 may share some effector pathways, evidence is accumulating that Ras and Rap1 each regulate unique cellular processes in response to various extracellular ligands. For Rap1 these functions may include the control of cell morphology.
Leukocyte-function-associated antigen-1 (LFA-1) is an integrin that is critical for T-cell adhesion and immunologic responses. As a transmembrane receptor and adhesion molecule, LFA-1 signals bidirectionally, whereby information about extracellular ligands is passed outside-in while cellular activation is transmitted inside-out to the adhesive ectodomain. Here, we review the role of small guanosine triphosphatases (GTPases) in LFA-1 signaling. Rap1, a Ras-related GTPase, appears to be central to LFA-1 function. Rap1 is regulated by receptor signaling [e.g. T-cell receptor (TCR), CD28, and cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4 (CTLA-4)] and by adapter proteins [e.g. adhesion and degranulation-promoting adapter protein (ADAP) and Src kinase-associated phosphoprotein of 55 kDa (SKAP-55)]. Inside-out signaling flows through Rap1 to regulator of adhesion and cell polarization enriched in lymphoid tissues (RAPL) and Rap1-GTP interacting adapter molecule (RIAM) that act in conjunction with the cytoskeleton on the cytosolic domain of LFA-1 to increase adhesion of the ectodomain. Outside-in signaling also relies on small GTPases such as Rho proteins. Vav-1, a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for Rho proteins, is activated as a consequence of LFA-1 engagement. Jun-activating binding protein-1 (JAB-1) and cytohesin-1 have been implicated as possible outside-in signaling intermediates. We have recently shown that Ras is also downstream of LFA-1 engagement: LFA-1 signaling through phospholipase D (PLD) to RasGRP1 was required for Ras activation on the plasma membrane following stimulation of TCR.
Epac proteins respond to the second messenger cyclic AMP (cAMP) and are activated by Gs coupled receptors. They act as specific guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) for the small G proteins, Rap1 and Rap2 of the Ras family. A plethora of studies using 8-pCPT-2'-O-Me-cAMP, an Epac agonist, has revealed the importance of these multi-domain proteins in the control of key cellular functions such as cell division, migration, growth and secretion. Epac and protein kinase A (PKA) may act independently but are often associated with the same biological process, in which they fulfill either synergistic or opposite effects. In addition, compelling evidence is now accumulating about the formation of molecular complexes in distinct cellular compartments that influence Epac signaling and cellular function. Epac is spatially and temporally regulated by scaffold protein and its effectors are interconnected with other signaling pathways. Pathophysiological changes in Epac signaling may underlie certain diseases.
Agonist stimulation of integrin receptors, composed of transmembrane alpha and beta subunits, leads cells to regulate integrin affinity ('activation'), a process that controls cell adhesion and migration, and extracellular matrix assembly. A final step in integrin activation is the binding of talin to integrin beta cytoplasmic domains. We used forward, reverse and synthetic genetics to engineer and order integrin activation pathways of a prototypic integrin, platelet alphaIIbbeta3. PMA activated alphaIIbbeta3 only after expression of both PKCalpha (protein kinase Calpha) and talin at levels approximating those in platelets. Inhibition of Rap1 GTPase reduced alphaIIbbeta3 activation, whereas expression of constitutively active Rap1A(G12V) bypassed the requirement for PKCalpha. Overexpression of a Rap effector, RIAM (Rap1-GTP-interacting adaptor molecule), activated alphaIIbbeta3 and bypassed the requirement for PKCalpha and Rap1. In addition, shRNA (short hairpin RNA)-mediated knockdown of RIAM blocked talin interaction with and activation of integrin alphaIIbbeta3. Rap1 activation caused the formation of an 'activation complex' containing talin and RIAM that redistributed to the plasma membrane and activated alphaIIbbeta3. The central finding was that this Rap1-induced formation of an 'integrin activation complex' leads to the unmasking of the integrin-binding site on talin, resulting in integrin activation.
The G protein specificity of multiple signaling pathways of the dopamine-D2S (short form) receptor was investigated in GH4ZR7 lactotroph cells. Activation of the dopamine-D2S receptor inhibited forskolin-induced cAMP production, reduced BayK8644- activated calcium influx, and blocked TRH-mediated p42/p44 MAPK phosphorylation. These actions were blocked by pretreatment with pertussis toxin (PTX), indicating mediation by G(i/o) proteins. D2S stimulation also decreased TRH-induced MAPK/ERK kinase phosphorylation. TRH induced c-Raf but not B-Raf activation, and the D2S receptor inhibited both TRH-induced c-Raf and basal B-Raf kinase activity. After PTX treatment, D2S receptor signaling was rescued in cells stably transfected with individual PTX-insensitive Galpha mutants. Inhibition of adenylyl cyclase was partly rescued by Galpha(i)2 or Galpha(i)3, but Galpha(o) alone completely reconstituted D2S-mediated inhibition of BayK8644-induced L-type calcium channel activation. Galpha(o) and Galpha(i)3 were the main components involved in D2S-mediated p42/44 MAPK inhibition. In cells transfected with the carboxyl-terminal domain of G protein receptor kinase to inhibit Gbetagamma signaling, only D2S-mediated inhibition of calcium influx was blocked, but not inhibition of adenylyl cyclase or MAPK. These results indicate that the dopamine-D2S receptor couples to distinct G(i/o) proteins, depending on the pathway addressed, and suggest a novel Galpha(i)3/Galpha(o)-dependent inhibition of MAPK mediated by c-Raf and B-Raf-dependent inhibition of MAPK/ERK kinase.
Rap1 (Ras-proximity 1), a member of the Ras family of small guanine triphosphatases (GTPases), is activated by diverse extracellular stimuli. While Rap1 has been discovered originally as a potential Ras antagonist, accumulating evidence indicates that Rap1 per se mediates unique signals and exerts biological functions distinctly different from Ras. Rap1 plays a dominant role in the control of cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions by regulating the function of integrins and other adhesion molecules in various cell types. Rap1 also regulates MAP kinase (MAPK) activity in a manner highly dependent on the context of cell types. Recent studies (including gene-targeting analysis) have uncovered that the Rap1 signal is integrated crucially and unpredictably in the diverse aspects of comprehensive biological systems. This review summarizes the role of the Rap1 signal in developments and functions of the immune and hematopoietic systems as well as in malignancy. Importantly, Rap1 activation is tightly regulated in tissue cells, and dysregulations of the Rap1 signal in specific tissues result in certain disorders, including myeloproliferative disorders and leukemia, platelet dysfunction with defective hemostasis, leukocyte adhesion-deficiency syndrome, lupus-like systemic autoimmune disease, and T cell anergy. Many of these disorders resemble human diseases, and the Rap1 signal with its regulators may provide rational molecular targets for controlling certain human diseases including malignancy.
Tumors depend upon angiogenesis for growth and metastasis. It is therefore critical to understand the inhibitory signaling mechanisms in endothelial cells that control angiogenesis. Epac is a cyclic adenosine 5'-monophosphate-activated guanine nucleotide exchange factor for Rap1. In this study, we show that activation of Epac or Rap1 leads to potent inhibition of angiogenesis in vivo. Epac/Rap1 activation down-regulates inhibitor of differentiation 1 (Id1), which negatively regulates thrombospondin-1 (TSP1), an inhibitor of angiogenesis. Consistent with this mechanism, activation of Epac/Rap 1 induces expression of TSP1; conversely, depletion of Epac reduces TSP1 levels in endothelial cells. Blockade of TSP1 binding to its receptor, CD36, rescues inhibition of chemotaxis or angiogenesis by activated Epac/Rap1. Mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 5, a downstream mediator of vascular endothelial growth factor, antagonizes the effects of Epac/Rap1 by inducing Id1 and suppressing TSP1 expression. Finally, TSP1 is also secreted by fibroblasts in response to Epac/Rap1 activation. These results identify Epac and Rap1 as inhibitory regulators of the angiogenic process, implicate Id1 and TSP1 as downstream mediators of Epac/Rap1, and highlight a novel interplay between pro- and antiangiogenic signaling cascades involving multiple cell types within the angiogenic microenvironment.