To investigate the role of RhoA on the intracellular membrane dynamics of lysosomes in rat hepatoma cells (MM1), we analyzed the localization of lysosomal aspartic proteinase cathepsin D by confocal immunofluorescence microscopy in the dominant active RhoA-transfected cells. Here we show that the transfection of the dominant active form of human small guanosine triphosphatase (GTPase) RhoA in MM1 cells, a highly invasive cell line, causes the redistribution and spreading of small punctate structures stained for cathepsin D throughout the cytoplasm. We found that the microtubule organization was markedly different in the two cell lines: uniformly developed and polymerized microtubule filaments were seen in the mock transfectants; however, the dynamic organization of microtubules was less pronounced in the active RhoA transfectants. Furthermore, we found for the first time that a selective inhibitor of Rho-associated kinase (p160ROCK), Y-27632, impeded the subcellular spreading of cathepsin D staining and promoted reclustering of cathepsin D toward the perinuclear region in the active RhoA-transfected cells. To our knowledge, this is the first indication that the RhoA/ROCK-mediated signaling pathway is involved in the intracellular membrane dynamics of lysosomes by regulating the cytoskeletal microtubule organization as well as the actin cytoskeletons.
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