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Open Access Research article

LKB1 tumor suppressor protein regulates actin filament assembly through Rho and its exchange factor Dbl independently of kinase activity

Xiaojian Xu, Tatiana Omelchenko and Alan Hall*

Author Affiliations

Cell Biology Program, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065, USA

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BMC Cell Biology 2010, 11:77  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-11-77

Published: 12 October 2010

Abstract

Background

Germline mutations in LKB1 result in Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome characterized by intestinal hamartomas and increased incidence of epithelial cancers. LKB1 encodes a serine/threonine kinase that plays an important role in regulating energy metabolism through the AMPK/mTOR signaling pathway. In addition, LKB1 is homologous to PAR-4, a polarity protein first described in C. elegans, while activation of LKB1 in mammalian epithelial cells induces the polarized assembly of actin filaments.

Results

To explore the mechanism by which LKB1 interacts with the actin cytoskeleton, we introduced LKB1 into HeLa cells that lack endogenous LKB1. This results in activation of the small GTPase Rho and the assembly of linear actin filaments associated with focal adhesions. These effects on the actin cytoskeleton are attenuated by siRNA-mediated depletion of the guanine nucleotide exchange factor Dbl. Co-expression of the LKB1 with the adaptor protein STRAD induces actin filament puncta associated with phospho-ezrin.

Conclusions

This study reveals that LKB1 regulates the actin cytoskeleton through a Dbl/Rho pathway.