An important process in embryogenesis and cancer-cell metastasis is the conversion of epithelial cells to a migratory phenotype, a phenomenon known as epithelial-mesenchymal transition (E-MT). To achieve E-MT, cells dissociate from neighbouring cells and adopt a migratory morphology. This transition requires remodelling of their cell shape and substratum adhesions; activities that require extensive reorganisation of the actin cytoskeleton. Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF)-induced scattering of Madin Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells is a routinely used model of E-MT, in which actin cytoskeletal rearrangement is known to be dependent on Rho family GTPases. We have developed a novel model of HGF-induced E-MT using the human prostate cancer cell line, DU145. This model overcomes the limitation of using a canine cell line and facilitates the study of E-MT in human cancer. We demonstrate for the first time the scattering response of individual DU145 cells to HGF in real time and have characterised changes in actin cytoskeletal organisation and cell adhesions as these cells respond to HGF. HGF-induced scattering of DU145 cells is dependent on the activity of Rho family GTPases, and using this model, we are able to demonstrate for the first time that endogenous Cdc42 is activated downstream of HGF. Furthermore we have also shown that the response of DU145 cells to HGF is dependent on a phosphatidylinositide 3-kinase pathway.
(c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.