Regulation of platelet Rac1 and Cdc42 activation through interaction with calmodulin

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2008 May;1783(5):770-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2008.01.022. Epub 2008 Feb 11.


Rac1 and Cdc42 are members of the Rho family of small GTPases and have been shown to induce lamellipodia and filopodia formation, respectively. This leads to changes in cytoskeleton organization and as a consequence affects cell migration. In the present work we demonstrate that endogenous Rac1 and Cdc42 interact with calmodulin (CaM) in a Ca(2+)-dependent fashion. The interaction of Rac1 and Cdc42 with CaM was shown to be direct. This novel interaction was further confirmed in platelets using co-immunoprecipitation studies. Using CaM database analysis and in vitro peptide competition assays we have identified a 14 amino acid region in Rac1 that is essential for CaM binding. The scrambled form of the peptide did not bind CaM demonstrating specificity of the predicted CaM binding region in Rac1. A similar region capable of binding CaM exists in Cdc42. Furthermore, using the optimal activation time-point for each GTPase, the role of CaM in the function of Rac1 and Cdc42 was examined. Results demonstrate that in human platelets, thrombin caused maximal activation of Rac1 and Cdc42 at ~60 s and ~25 s respectively. The potent CaM antagonist W7 abolished thrombin-mediated activation of Rac1. However, addition of W7 resulted in the activation of Cdc42 over basal and W7 did not inhibit thrombin-mediated activation of Cdc42. The less potent CaM inhibitor, W5, did not have any effect on Rac1 and Cdc42 activation. The results demonstrate that in platelets, binding of CaM to Rac1 increases its activation while its binding to Cdc42 reduces the activation of this GTPase. This suggests an important role for CaM in coordinating Rac1 and Cdc42 activation and in the regulation of cytoskeleton remodeling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Binding, Competitive
  • Blood Platelets / enzymology*
  • Calmodulin / metabolism*
  • Calmodulin / physiology
  • Cattle
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Sulfonamides / pharmacology
  • cdc42 GTP-Binding Protein / metabolism*
  • rac1 GTP-Binding Protein / chemistry
  • rac1 GTP-Binding Protein / metabolism*


  • Calmodulin
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Peptides
  • Sulfonamides
  • W 7
  • cdc42 GTP-Binding Protein
  • rac1 GTP-Binding Protein