Mechanisms of nitric oxide interplay with Rho GTPase family members in modulation of actin membrane dynamics in pericytes and fibroblasts

Am J Pathol. 2005 Jun;166(6):1861-70. doi: 10.1016/S0002-9440(10)62495-9.


Migration of pericytes such as hepatic stellate cells is fundamentally important for diverse biological and pathological processes including tumor invasion and fibrosis. In prototypical migratory cells such as fibroblasts, the small GTPases Rac1 and RhoA govern the assembly of lamellipodia and stress fibers, respectively, cytoskeletal structures that are integral to the cell migration process. The gaseous signaling molecule nitric oxide (NO) influences growth factor chemotactic responses, although this occurs primarily in cell-type-specific ways and through cell biological effects that are poorly characterized. In this study, we use complementary molecular and cell biological approaches to delineate important roles for Rac1, RhoA, and NO in migration of the human hepatic stellate cell line LX2 and primary rat hepatic stellate cells. Both platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) and Rac1 overexpression drove migration through formation of actin-positive filopodia spikes in LX2 as compared to the formation of lamellipodia in fibroblasts. NO inhibited PDGF- and Rac1-driven migration in LX2 by abrogating filopodia formation and inhibited migration of fibroblasts by attenuating lamellipodial protrusions. Additionally, RhoA conferred resistance to NO inhibition of migration and restored chemotactic responses to PDGF in the absence of functional Rac1 in LX2. In conclusion, these studies identify novel crosstalk between small GTPases, cytoskeletal structures, and NO in pericyte-specific pathways, providing counterbalances in the chemotactic responses to growth factors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism*
  • Pericytes / cytology
  • Pericytes / metabolism*
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Pseudopodia / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • rac1 GTP-Binding Protein / metabolism
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*


  • Actins
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor
  • Nitric Oxide
  • rac1 GTP-Binding Protein
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins