Mutation of CCM2 predisposes individuals to cerebral cavernous malformations, vascular abnormalities that cause seizures and hemorrhagic stroke. CCM2 has been proposed to regulate the activity of RhoA for maintenance of vascular integrity. Herein, we define a novel mechanism where the CCM2 phosphotyrosine binding (PTB) domain binds the ubiquitin ligase (E3) Smurf1, controlling RhoA degradation. Brain endothelial cells with knockdown of CCM2 have increased RhoA protein and display impaired directed cell migration. CCM2 binding of Smurf1 increases Smurf1-mediated degradation of RhoA. CCM2 does not significantly alter the catalytic activity of Smurf1, nor is CCM2 a Smurf1 substrate. Rather the CCM2-Smurf1 interaction functions to localize Smurf1 for RhoA degradation. These findings provide a molecular mechanism for the pathogenesis of cerebral cavernous malformations (CCM) resulting from loss of CCM2-mediated localization of Smurf1, which controls RhoA degradation required for maintenance of normal endothelial cell physiology.
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