The male-germ-cell Rac GTPase-activating protein gene (MgcRacGAP) was initially described as a human RhoGAP gene highly expressed in male germ cells at spermatocyte stage, but exhibits significant levels of expression in most cell types. In somatic cells, MgcRacGAP protein was found to both concentrate in the midzone/midbody and be required for cytokinesis. As a RhoGAP, MgcRacGAP has been proposed to down-regulate RhoA, which is localized to the cleavage furrow and midbody during cytokinesis. Due to embryonic lethality in MgcRacGAP-null mutant mice and to the lack of an in vitro model of spermatogenesis, nothing is known regarding the role and mode of action of MgcRacGAP in male germ cells. We have analysed the expression, subcellular localization and molecular interactions of MgcRacGAP in male germ cells. Whereas MgcRacGAP was found only in spermatocytes and early spermatids, the widespread RhoGTPases RhoA, Rac1 and Cdc42 (which are, to various extents, in vitro substrates for MgcRacGAP activity) were, surprisingly, not detected at these stages. In contrast, Rnd2, a Rho family GTPase-deficient G-protein was found to be co-expressed with MgcRacGAP in spermatocytes and spermatids. MgcRacGAP was detected in the midzone of meiotic cells, but also, unexpectedly, in the Golgi-derived pro-acrosomal vesicle, co-localizing with Rnd2. In addition, a stable Rnd2–MgcRacGAP molecular complex could be evidenced by glutathione S-transferase pull-down and co-immunoprecipitation experiments. We conclude that Rnd2 is a probable physiological partner of MgcRacGAP in male germ cells and we propose that MgcRacGAP, and, quite possibly, other RhoGAPs, may participate in signalling pathways involving Rnd family proteins.
Abbreviations used: COG, conserved oligomeric Golgi; ECL®, enhanced chemiluminescence; GST, glutathione S-transferase; GAP, GTPase-activating protein; MgcRacGAP, male-germ-cell RacGAP; MKLP1, mitotic kinesin-like protein 1.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Present address: National Institute for Medical Research, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, London NW7 1AA, U.K.