Rab18 inhibits secretory activity in neuroendocrine cells by interacting with secretory granules

Traffic. 2007 Jul;8(7):867-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0854.2007.00570.x. Epub 2007 May 4.


Rab proteins comprise a complex family of small GTPases involved in the regulation of intracellular membrane trafficking and reorganization. In this study, we identified Rab18 as a new inhibitory player of the secretory pathway in neuroendocrine cells. In adrenal chromaffin PC12 cells and pituitary AtT20 cells, Rab18 is located at the cytosol but associates with a subpopulation of secretory granules after stimulation of the regulated secretory pathway, strongly suggesting that induction of secretion provokes Rab18 activation and recruitment to these organelles. In support of this, a dominant-inactive Rab18 mutant was found to distribute diffusely in the cytosol, whereas a dominant-active Rab18 mutant was predominantly associated to secretory granules. Furthermore, interaction of Rab18 with secretory granules was associated to an inhibition in the secretory activity of PC12 and AtT20 cells in response to stimulatory challenges. Association of Rab18 with secretory granules was also observed by immunoelectron microscopy in normal, non-tumoral endocrine cells (pituitary melanotropes), wherein Rab18 protein content is inversely correlated to the level of secretory activity of cells. Taken together, these findings suggest that, in neuroendocrine cells, Rab18 acts as a negative regulator of secretory activity, likely by impairing secretory granule transport.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • Genes, Dominant
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron
  • Mutation
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • PC12 Cells
  • Pituitary Gland / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Secretory Vesicles / metabolism*
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins / physiology*


  • Rab18 protein, mouse
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Rab18 protein, rat
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins