Cdc42 mediates nucleus movement and MTOC polarization in Swiss 3T3 fibroblasts under mechanical shear stress

Jerry S.H. Lee, Melissa I. Chang, Yiider Tseng, Denis Wirtz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Nucleus movement is essential during nucleus positioning for tissue growth and development in eukaryotic cells. However, molecular regulators of nucleus movement in interphase fibroblasts have yet to be identified. Here, we report that nuclei of Swiss 3T3 fibroblasts undergo enhanced movement when subjected to shear flows. Such movement includes both rotation and translocation and is dependent on microtubule, not F-actin, structure. Through inactivation of Rho GTPases, well-known mediators of cytoskeleton reorganization, we demonstrate that Cdc42, not RhoA or Rac1, controls the extent of nucleus translocation, and more importantly, of nucleus rotation in the cytoplasm. In addition to generating nuclei movement, we find that shear flows also causes repositioning of the MTOC in the direction of flow. This behavior is also controlled by Cdc42 via the Par6/protein kinase Cζ pathway. These results are the first to establish Cdc42 as a molecular regulator of not only shear-induced MTOC polarization in Swiss 3T3 fibroblasts, but also of shear-induced microtubule-dependent nucleus movement. We propose that the movements of MTOC and nucleus are coupled chemically, because they are both regulated by Cdc42 and dependent on microtubule structure, and physically, possibly via Hook/SUN family homologues similar to those found in Caenorhabditis elegans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)871-880
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Biology of the Cell
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes


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