Rho GTPases control many facets of cell polarity and migration; namely, the reorganization of the cellular cytoskeleton to extracellular stimuli. Rho GTPases are activated by GTP exchange factors (GEFs), which induce guanosine diphosphate (GDP) release and the stabilization of the nucleotide-free state. Thus, the role of GEFs in the regulation of the cellular response to extracellular cues during cell migration is a critical step of this process. In this report, we have analyzed the activation and subcellular localization of the hematopoietic GEF Vav in human peripheral blood lymphocytes stimulated with the chemokine stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1alpha). We show a robust activation of Vav and its redistribution to motility-associated subcellular structures, and we provide biochemical evidence of the recruitment of Vav to the membrane of SDF-1alpha-activated human lymphocytes, where it transiently interacts with the SDF-1alpha receptor CXCR4. Overexpression of a dominant negative form of Vav abolished lymphocyte polarization, actin polymerization, and migration. SDF-1alpha-mediated cell polarization and migration also were impaired by overexpression of an active, oncogenic Vav, although the mechanism appears to be different. Together, our data postulate a pivotal role for Vav in the transmission of the migratory signal through the chemokine receptor CXCR4.
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