Background: Members of the Rho family of small GTPases have been shown to have a diverse role in cell signalling events. They were originally identified as proteins that, by regulating the assembly of the actin cytoskeleton, are important determinants of cell morphology, and have recently been shown to be involved in transcriptional activation by the JNK/SAPK signalling pathway. In order to understand the mechanisms underlying the effects of Rho GTPases on these processes, the yeast two-hybrid system has been used to identify proteins that bind to an activated mutant of Cdc42, a Rho-family member.
Results: A cDNA encoding a previously unidentified Cdc42 target protein, CIP4, which is 545 amino-acids long and contains an SH3 domain at its carboxyl terminus, was cloned from a human B-cell library. The amino terminus of CIP4 bears resemblance to the non-kinase domain of the FER and Fes/Fps family of tyrosine kinases. In addition, similarities to a number of proteins with roles in regulating the actin cytoskeleton were noticed. CIP4 binds to activated Cdc42 in vitro and in vivo and overexpression of CIP4 in Swiss 3T3 fibroblasts reduces the amount of stress fibres in these cells. Moreover, coexpression of activated Cdc42 and CIP4 leads to clustering of CIP4 to a large number of foci at the dorsal side of the cells.
Conclusions: CIP4 is a downstream target of activated GTP-bound Cdc42, and is similar in sequence to proteins involved in signalling and cytoskeletal control. Together, these findings suggest that CIP4 may act as a link between Cdc42 signalling and regulation of the actin cytoskeleton.