The Rho GTPases regulate the actin cytoskeleton through interactions with various downstream effector molecules. Here we have identified a ubiquitously expressed human RhoA-binding protein, designated Rhophilin-2. Rhophilin-2 shows 40% amino acid similarity to human Rhophilin-1 and contains an N-terminal Rho-binding, a central Bro1-like, and a C-terminal PDZ domain. Glutathione S-transferase-capture experiments revealed that Rhophilin-1 and Rhophilin-2 interacted with both GDP- and GTP-bound RhoA in vitro. Despite the ability of Rhophilin-1 and Rhophilin-2 to interact with RhoA in a nucleotide-independent fashion, Rho-induced serum response element transcriptional activity was not altered by expression of either of these molecules. Although Rhophilin-2-expressing HeLa cells showed a loss of actin stress fibers, Rhophilin-1 expression had no noticeable effect on the actin cytoskeleton. Coexpression of Rhophilin-2 with a constitutively active Rho mutant reversed the disassembly phenotype, in which the coexpressing cells were more spread and less contracted than Rho alone-expressing cells. Expression of various Rhophilin-2 deletion and point mutants containing the N-terminal RhoA-binding domain but lacking other regions suggested that the disassembly of F-actin stress fibers was not simply caused by Rho sequestration. In addition, the Bro1 and PDZ domains of Rhophilin-2 were required for disassembly. RhoA activity assays also revealed that Rhophilin-2-expressing cells showed increased levels of RhoA-GTP suggesting that the Rhophilin-2-induced disassembly of stress fibers was not mediated by decreased RhoA activity. Based on the biochemical and biological activity, Rhophilin-2 may function normally in a Rho pathway to limit stress fiber formation and/or increase the turnover of F-actin structures in the absence of high levels of RhoA activity.
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