Dennd3 Functions as a Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factor for Small GTPase Rab12 in Mouse Embryonic Fibroblasts [Cell Biology]

April 9th, 2014 by Matsui, T., Noguchi, K., Fukuda, M.

Small GTPase Rab12 regulates mTORC1 (mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1) activity and autophagy through controlling PAT4 (proton/amino acid transporter 4) trafficking from recycling endosomes to lysosomes, where PAT4 is degraded. However, the precise regulatory mechanism of the Rab12-mediated membrane trafficking pathway remained to be determined, because a physiological Rab12-GEF (guanine nucleotide exchange factor) had yet to be identified. In this study, we performed functional analyses of Dennd3, which has recently been shown to possess a GEF activity toward Rab12 in vitro. The results showed that knockdown of Dennd3 in MEF (mouse embryonic fibroblast) cells caused an increase in the amount of PAT4 protein, the same as Rab12 knockdown did, and knockdown of Dennd3 and overexpression of Dennd3 were found to result in an increase and a decrease, respectively, in the intracellular amino acid concentration. Dennd3 overexpression was also found to reduce mTORC1 activity and promoted autophagy in a Rab12-dependent manner. Unexpectedly, however, Dennd3 knockdown had no effect on mTORC1 activity or autophagy, despite increasing the intracellular amino acid concentration. Further study showed that Dennd3 knockdown reduced Akt activity, and the reduction in Akt activity is likely to have canceled out amino-acid-induced mTORC1 activation through PAT4. These findings indicated that Dennd3 not only functions as a Rab12-GEF but also modulates Akt signaling in MEF cells.