Rho Guanosine Triphosphatase Mediates the Selective Stabilization of Microtubules Induced by Lysophosphatidic Acid

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The asymmetric distribution of stable, posttranslationally modified microtubules (MTs) contributes to the polarization of many cell types, yet the factors controlling the formation of these MTs are not known. We have found that lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) is a major serum factor responsible for rapidly generating stable, detyrosinated (Glu) MTs in serumstarved 3T3 cells. Using C3 toxin and val14 rho we showed that rho was both necessary and sufficient for the induction of Glu MTs by LPA and serum. Unlike previously described factors that induce MT stability, rho induced the stabilization of only a subset of the MTs and, in wound-edge cells, these stable MTs were appropriately oriented toward the leading edge of the cell. LPA had little effect on individual parameters of MT dynamics, but did induce long states of pause in a subset of MTs near the edge of the cell. Rho stimulation of MT stability was independent of actin stress fiber formation. These results identify rho as a novel regulator of the MT cytoskeleton that selectively stabilizes MTs during cell polarization by acting as a switch between dynamic and stable states of MTs rather than as a modulator of MT assembly and disassembly.

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