Background: Rac and Cdc42 are members of the Rho family of small GTPases. They modulate cell growth and polarity, and contribute to oncogenic transformation by Ras. The molecular mechanisms underlying these functions remain elusive, however.
Results: We have identified a novel effector of Rac and Cdc42, hPar-6, which is the human homolog of a cell-polarity determinant in Caenorhabditis elegans. hPar-6 contains a PDZ domain and a Cdc42/Rac interactive binding (CRIB) motif, and interacts with Rac1 and Cdc42 in a GTP-dependent manner. hPar-6 also binds directly to an atypical protein kinase C isoform, PKCzeta, and forms a stable ternary complex with Rac1 or Cdc42 and PKCzeta. This association results in stimulation of PKCzeta kinase activity. Moreover, hPar-6 potentiates cell transformation by Rac1/Cdc42 and its interaction with Rac1/Cdc42 is essential for this effect. Cell transformation by hPar-6 involves a PKCzeta-dependent pathway distinct from the pathway mediated by Raf.
Conclusions: These findings indicate that Rac/Cdc42 can regulate cell growth through Par-6 and PKCzeta, and suggest that deregulation of cell-polarity signaling can lead to cell transformation.