BACKGROUND: The Rnd proteins Rnd1, Rnd2, and Rnd3 (RhoE) comprise a unique branch of Rho-family G-proteins that lack intrinsic GTPase activity and consequently remain constitutively "active." Prior studies have suggested that Rnd proteins play pivotal roles in cell regulation by counteracting the biological functions of the RhoA GTPase, but the molecular basis for this antagonism is unknown. Possible mechanisms by which Rnd proteins could function as RhoA antagonists include sequestration of RhoA effector molecules, inhibition of guanine nucleotide exchange factors, and activation of GTPase-activating proteins (GAPs) for RhoA. However, effector molecules of Rnd proteins with such properties have not been identified. RESULTS: Here we identify p190 RhoGAP (p190), the most abundant GAP for RhoA in cells, as an interactor with Rnd proteins and show that this interaction is mediated by a p190 region that is distinct from the GAP domain. Using Rnd3-RhoA chimeras and Rnd3 mutants defective in p190 binding, as well as p190-deficient cells, we demonstrate that the cellular effects of Rnd expression are mediated by p190. We moreover show that Rnd proteins increase the GAP activity of p190 toward GTP bound RhoA and, finally, demonstrate that expression of Rnd3 leads to reduced cellular levels of RhoA-GTP by a p190-dependent mechanism. CONCLUSIONS: Our results identify p190 RhoGAPs as effectors of Rnd proteins and demonstrate a novel mechanism by which Rnd proteins function as antagonists of RhoA.
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