Dynamic changes in the spatiotemporal localization of Rab21 in live RAW264 cells during macropinocytosis

PLoS One. 2009 Aug 20;4(8):e6689. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006689.


Rab21, a member of the Rab GTPase family, is known to be involved in membrane trafficking, but its implication in macropinocytosis is unclear. We analyzed the spatiotemporal localization of Rab21 in M-CSF-stimulated RAW264 macrophages by the live-cell imaging of fluorescent protein-fused Rab21. It was demonstrated that wild-type Rab21 was transiently associated with macropinosomes. Rab21 was recruited to the macropinosomes after a decrease in PI(4,5)P(2) and PI(3,4,5)P(3) levels. Although Rab21 was largely colocalized with Rab5, the recruitment of Rab21 to the macropinosomes lagged a minute behind that of Rab5, and preceded that of Rab7. Then, Rab21 was dissociated from the macropinosomes prior to the accumulation of Lamp1, a late endosomal/lysosomal marker. Our analysis of Rab21 mutants revealed that the GTP-bound mutant, Rab21-Q78L, was recruited to the macropinosomes, similarly to wild-type Rab21. However, the GDP-bound mutant, Rab21-T33N, did not localize on the formed macropinosomes, suggesting that the binding of GTP to Rab21 is required for the proper recruitment of Rab21 onto the macropinosomes. However, neither mutation of Rab21 significantly affected the rate of macropinosome formation. These data indicate that Rab21 is a transient component of early and intermediate stages of macropinocytosis, and probably functions in macropinosome maturation before fusing with lysosomal compartments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Inositol Phosphates / metabolism
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Pinocytosis*
  • Subcellular Fractions / metabolism
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*


  • Inositol Phosphates
  • rab21 protein, mouse
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins