Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

R-Ras regulates β1-integrin trafficking via effects on membrane ruffling and endocytosis

Matthew W Conklin1, Aude Ada-Nguema1, Maddy Parsons2, Kristin M Riching1 and Patricia J Keely1*

Author Affiliations

1 Dept of Pharmacology, Laboratory for Molecular Biology and the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, University of Wisconsin, 1525 Linden Dr, Madison, WI, 53706, USA

2 Randall Division of Cell and Molecular Biophysics, King's College London Guy's Campus, London, SE1 1UL, UK

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BMC Cell Biology 2010, 11:14  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-11-14

Published: 18 February 2010



Integrin-mediated cell adhesion and spreading is dramatically enhanced by activation of the small GTPase, R-Ras. Moreover, R-Ras localizes to the leading edge of migrating cells, and regulates membrane protrusion. The exact mechanisms by which R-Ras regulates integrin function are not fully known. Nor is much known about the spatiotemporal relationship between these two molecules, an understanding of which may provide insight into R-Ras regulation of integrins.


GFP-R-Ras localized to the plasma membrane, most specifically in membrane ruffles, in Cos-7 cells. GFP-R-Ras was endocytosed from these ruffles, and trafficked via multiple pathways, one of which involved large, acidic vesicles that were positive for Rab11. Cells transfected with a dominant negative form of GFP-R-Ras did not form ruffles, had decreased cell spreading, and contained numerous, non-trafficking small vesicles. Conversely, cells transfected with the constitutively active form of GFP-R-Ras contained a greater number of ruffles and large vesicles compared to wild-type transfected cells. Ruffle formation was inhibited by knock-down of endogenous R-Ras with siRNA, suggesting that activated R-Ras is not just a component of, but also an architect of ruffle formation. Importantly, β1-integrin co-localized with endogenous R-Ras in ruffles and endocytosed vesicles. Expression of dominant negative R-Ras or knock down of R-Ras by siRNA prevented integrin accumulation into ruffles, impaired endocytosis of β1-integrin, and decreased β1-integrin-mediated adhesion. Knock-down of R-Ras also perturbed the dynamics of another membrane-localized protein, GFP-VSVG, suggesting a more global role for R-Ras on membrane dynamics. However, while R-Ras co-internalized with integrins, it did not traffic with VSVG, which instead moved laterally out of ruffles within the plane of the membrane, suggesting multiple levels of regulation of and by R-Ras.


Our results suggest that integrin function involves integrin trafficking via a cycle of membrane protrusion, ruffling, and endocytosis regulated by R-Ras, providing a novel mechanism by which integrins are linked to R-Ras through control of membrane dynamics.