Potential roles of the nucleotide exchange factor ECT2 and Cdc42 GTPase in spindle assembly in Xenopus egg cell-free extracts

Takashi Tatsumoto, Hiromi Sakata, Mary Dasso, Toru Miki
Journal of Cellular Biochemistry 2003 December 1, 90 (5): 892-900
The ECT2 protooncogene encodes a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for the Rho family of small GTPases. ECT2 contains motifs of cell cycle regulators at its N-terminal domain. We previously showed that ECT2 plays a critical role in cytokinesis. Here, we report a potential role of XECT2, the Xenopus homologue of the human ECT2, in spindle assembly in cell-free Xenopus egg extracts. Cloned XECT2 cDNA encodes a 100 kDa protein closely related to human ECT2. XECT2 is specifically phosphorylated in M phase extracts. Affinity-purified anti-XECT2 antibody strongly inhibited mitosis in Xenopus cell-free extracts. Instead of bipolar spindles, where chromosomes are aligned at the metaphase plane in control extracts, the addition of anti-XECT2 resulted in the appearance of abnormal spindles including monopolar and multipolar spindles as well as bipolar spindles with misaligned chromosomes. In these in vitro synthesized spindle structures, XECT2 was found to tightly associate with mitotic spindles. The N-terminal half of XECT2 lacking the catalytic domain also strongly inhibited spindle assembly in vitro, resulting in the formation of mitotic spindles with a low density. Among the representative Rho GTPases, a dominant-negative form of Cdc42 strongly inhibited spindle assembly in vitro. These results suggest that the Rho family GTPase Cdc42 and its exchange factor XECT2 are critical regulators of spindle assembly in Xenopus egg extracts.

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