A complete Rab screening reveals novel insights in Weibel-Palade body exocytosis

J Cell Sci. 2012 Oct 15;125(Pt 20):4780-90. doi: 10.1242/jcs.104174. Epub 2012 Aug 16.


Weibel-Palade bodies (WPBs) are endothelial-cell-specific organelles that, upon fusion with the plasma membrane, release cargo molecules that are essential in blood vessel abnormalities, such as thrombosis and inflammation, as well as in angiogenesis. Despite the importance of WPBs, the basic mechanisms that mediate their secretion are only poorly understood. Rab GTPases play fundamental role in the trafficking of intracellular organelles. Yet, the only known WPB-associated Rabs are Rab27a and Rab3d. To determine the full spectrum of WPB-associated Rabs we performed a complete Rab screening by analysing the localisation of all Rabs in WPBs and their involvement in the secretory process in endothelial cells. Apart from Rab3 and Rab27, we identified three additional Rabs, Rab15 (a previously reported endocytic Rab), Rab33 and Rab37, on the WPB limiting membrane. A knockdown approach using siRNAs showed that among these five WPB Rabs only Rab3, Rab27 and Rab15 are required for exocytosis. Intriguingly, we found that Rab15 cooperates with Rab27a in WPB secretion. Furthermore, a specific effector of Rab27, Munc13-4, appears to be also an effector of Rab15 and is required for WPB exocytosis. These data indicate that WPB secretion requires the coordinated function of a specific group of Rabs and that, among them, Rab27a and Rab15, as well as their effector Munc13-4, cooperate to drive exocytosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Exocytosis
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells
  • Humans
  • Protein Transport
  • Weibel-Palade Bodies / metabolism*
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins* / isolation & purification
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins* / metabolism
  • rab27 GTP-Binding Proteins
  • rab3 GTP-Binding Proteins / isolation & purification
  • rab3 GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism


  • RAB33A protein, human
  • rab27 GTP-Binding Proteins
  • RAB3D protein, human
  • Rab15 protein, human
  • Rab37 protein, human
  • RAB27A protein, human
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins
  • rab3 GTP-Binding Proteins