Directional motility induced by epidermal growth factor requires Cdc42

Exp Cell Res. 2003 Jul 1;287(1):47-56. doi: 10.1016/s0014-4827(03)00119-8.


Cell motility is actuated by a host of intracellular signaling cascades that result in movement of the cell in one direction, even without an external gradient. Phospholipase C-gamma (PLCgamma) has been shown to be important for growth factor-induced lamellipodial protrusion at the front of the cell while Cdc42 has been implicated in both filopodium formation at the leading edge and control of polarity of migrating cells. We asked whether these asymmetries in effector molecules may be linked. When we overexpressed either constitutively active, dominant negative, or GFP-tagged Cdc42, wild-type NR6 fibroblasts lost directionality, as expected. On epidermal growth factor (EGF) exposure these cells produced multiple, transient protrusions in every direction; these extensions failed to result in productive motility. GFP-tagged Cdc42 appeared transiently at edges of newly formed protrusions in EGF-stimulated cells while they moved haphazardly. While PLCgamma is distributed throughout the cell, the ratio of active, tyrosyl-phosphorylated PLCgamma was increased at the leading edge, where phosphatidylinositol (4,5)-bisphosphate (PIP(2)) hydrolysis is concentrated. This co-localization of activities may be due to Cdc42 directing PLCgamma to the cell front, as PLCgamma associated with Cdc42 in an EGF-dependent manner. We conclude that Cdc42 controls cell polarity, likely in part, through its binding to active PLCgamma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cell Movement / genetics*
  • Cell Polarity / drug effects
  • Cell Polarity / genetics*
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / metabolism*
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / pharmacology
  • Eukaryotic Cells / drug effects
  • Eukaryotic Cells / enzymology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic / genetics
  • Phosphatidylinositol 4,5-Diphosphate / metabolism
  • Phospholipase C gamma
  • Pseudopodia / drug effects
  • Pseudopodia / metabolism*
  • Type C Phospholipases / metabolism
  • cdc42 GTP-Binding Protein / genetics
  • cdc42 GTP-Binding Protein / metabolism*


  • Phosphatidylinositol 4,5-Diphosphate
  • Epidermal Growth Factor
  • Type C Phospholipases
  • Phospholipase C gamma
  • cdc42 GTP-Binding Protein