Background: Missing in metastasis (MIM) is a member of the inverse BAR-domain protein family, and in vitro studies have implied MIM plays a role in deforming membrane curvature into filopodia-like protrusions and cell dynamics. Yet, the physiological role of the endogenous MIM in mammalian cells remains undefined.
Principal findings: We have examined mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) derived from mice in which the MIM locus was targeted by a gene trapping vector. MIM(-/-) MEFs showed a less polarized architecture characterized by smooth edges and fewer cell protrusions as compared to wild type cells, although the formation of filopodia-like microprotrusions appeared to be normal. Immunofluorescent staining further revealed that MIM(-/-) cells were partially impaired in the assembly of stress fibers and focal adhesions but were enriched with transverse actin filaments at the periphery. Poor assembly of stress fibers was apparently correlated with attenuation of the activity of Rho GTPases and partially relieved upon overexpressing of Myc-RhoA(Q63L), a constitutively activated RhoA mutant. MIM(-/-) cells were also spread less effectively than wild type cells during attachment to dishes and substratum. Upon treatment with PDGF MIM(-/-) cells developed more prominent dorsal ruffles along with increased Rac1 activity. Compared to wild type cells, MIM(-/-) cells had a slower motility in the presence of a low percentage of serum-containing medium but migrated normally upon adding growth factors such as 10% serum, PDGF or EGF. MIM(-/-) cells were also partially impaired in the internalization of transferrin, fluorescent dyes, foreign DNAs and PDGF receptor alpha. On the other hand, the level of tyrosine phosphorylation of PDGF receptors was more elevated in MIM depleted cells than wild type cells upon PDGF treatment.
Conclusions: Our data suggests that endogenous MIM protein regulates globally the cell architecture and endocytosis that ultimately influence a variety of cellular behaviors, including cell polarity, motility, receptor signaling and membrane ruffling.