All animal cells utilize a specialized set of cytoskeletal proteins to determine their overall shape and the organization of their intracellular compartments and organelles. During embryonic development, the dynamic nature of the actin cytoskeleton is critical for virtually all morphogenic events requiring changes in cell shape, migration, adhesion, and division. The behavior of the actin cytoskeleton is modulated by a myriad of accessory proteins. Shroom3 is an actin binding protein that regulates neural tube morphogenesis by eliciting changes in cell shape through a myosin II-dependent pathway. The Shroom-related gene SHROOM4 (formerly called KIAA1202) has also been implicated in neural development, as mutations in this gene are associated with human X-linked mental retardation. To better understand the function of Shrm4 in embryonic development, we have cloned mouse Shroom4 and characterized its protein product in vivo and in vitro. Shroom4 is expressed in a wide range of cell types during mouse development, including vascular endothelium and the polarized epithelium of the neural tube and kidney. In endothelial cells and embryo fibroblasts, endogenous Shroom4 co-distributes with myosin II to a distinct cytoplasmic population of F-actin and ectopic expression of Shroom4 in multiple cell types enhances or induces the formation of this actin-based structure. This localization is mediated, at least in part, by the direct interaction of Shroom4 and F-actin. Our results suggest that Shroom4 is a regulator of cytoskeletal architecture that may play an important role in vertebrate development.
(c) 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.