Phosphorylation-dependent and constitutive activation of Rho proteins by wild-type and oncogenic Vav-2

Kornel E. Schuebel, Nieves Movilla, José Luis Rosa, Xosé R. Bustelo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

215 Scopus citations


We show here that Vav-2, a member of the Vav family of oncoproteins, acts as a guanosine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) for RhoG and RhoA-like GTPases in a phosphotyrosine-dependent manner. Moreover, we show that Vav-2 oncogenic activation correlates with the acquisition of phosphorylation-independent exchange activity. In vivo, wild-type Vav-2 is activated oncogenically by tyrosine kinases, an effect enhanced further by co-expression of RhoA. Likewise, the Vav-2 oncoprotein synergizes with RhoA and RhoB proteins in cellular transformation. Transient transfection assays in NIH-3T3 cells show that phosphorylated wild-type Vav-2 and the Vav-2 oncoprotein induce cytoskeletal changes resembling those observed by the activation of the RhoG pathway. In contrast, the constitutive expression of the Vav-2 oncoprotein in rodent fibroblasts leads to major alterations in cell morphology and to highly enlarged cells in which karyokinesis and cytokinesis frequently are uncoupled. These results identify a regulated GEF for the RhoA subfamily, provide a biochemical explanation for vav family oncogenicity, and establish a new signaling model in which specific Vav-like proteins couple tyrosine kinase signals with the activation of distinct subsets of the Rho/Rac family of GTPases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6608-6621
Number of pages14
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 16 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • GDP-GTP exchange factors
  • Phosphorylation
  • Rac/Rho
  • Vav family

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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