Cross-talk between Rho GTPase family members (Rho, Rac, and Cdc42) plays important roles in modulating and coordinating downstream cellular responses resulting from Rho GTPase signaling. The NADPH oxidase of phagocytes and nonphagocytic cells is a Rac GTPase-regulated system that generates reactive oxygen species (ROS) for the purposes of innate immunity and intracellular signaling. We recently demonstrated that NADPH oxidase activation involves sequential interactions between Rac and the flavocytochrome b558 and p67phox oxidase components to regulate electron transfer from NADPH to molecular oxygen. Here we identify an antagonistic interaction between Rac and the closely related GTPase Cdc42 at the level of flavocytochrome b 558 that regulates tile formation of ROS. Cdc42 is unable to stimulate ROS formation by NADPH oxidase, but Cdc42, like Rac1 and Rac2, was able to specifically bind to flavocytochrome b558 in vitro. Cdc42 acted as a competitive inhibitor of Rac1- and Rac2-mediated ROS formation in a recombinant cell-free oxidase system. Inhibition was dependent on the Cdc42 insert domain but not the Switch I region. Transient expression of Cdc42Q61L inhibited ROS formation induced by constitutively active Rac1 in an NADPH oxidase-expressing Cos7 cell line. Inhibition of Cdc42 activity by transduction of the Cdc42-binding domain of Wiscott-Aldrich syndrome protein into human neutrophils resulted in an enhanced fMetLeuPhe-induced oxidative response, consistent with inhibitory cross-talk between Rac and Cdc42 in activated neutrophils. We propose here a novel antagonism between Rac and Cdc42 GTPases at the level of the Nox proteins that modulates the generation of ROS used for host defense, cell signaling, and transformation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28136-28142
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number27
StatePublished - Jul 2 2004


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