Differential regulation of rho GTPases during lung adenocarcinoma migration and invasion reveals a novel role of the tumor suppressor StarD13 in invadopodia regulation

Maria Al Haddad, Rayane El-Rif, Samer Hanna, Leila Jaafar, Rayanne Dennaoui, Sandra Abdellatef, Veronika Miskolci, Dianne Cox, Louis Hodgson, Mirvat El-Sibai

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12 Scopus citations


Background: Lung cancer is the second most commonly occurring cancer. The ability to metastasize and spread to distant locations renders the tumor more aggressive. Members of the Rho subfamily of small GTP-binding proteins (GTPases) play a central role in the regulation of the actin cytoskeleton and in cancer cell migration and metastasis. In this study we investigated the role of the RhoA/Cdc42 GAP, StarD13, a previously described tumor suppressor, in malignancy, migration and invasion of the lung cancer cells A549. Methods: We knocked down StarD13 expression in A549 lung cancer cells and tested the effect on cell migration and invadopodia formation using time lapse imaging and invasion assays. We also performed rescue experiments to determine the signaling pathways downstream of StarD13 and transfected the cells with FRET biosensors for RhoGTPases to identify the proteins involved in invadopodia formation. Results: We observed a decrease in the level of expression of StarD13 in lung tumor tissues compared to normal lung tissues through immunohistochemistry. StarD13 also showed a lower expression in the lung adenocarcinoma cell line A549 compared to normal lung cells, WI38. In addition, the depletion of StarD13 increased cell proliferation and viability in WI38 and A549 cells, suggesting that StarD13 might potentially be a tumor suppressor in lung cancer. The depletion of StarD13, however, inhibited cell motility, conversely demonstrating a positive regulatory role in cell migration. This was potentially due to the constitutive activation of RhoA detected by pull down and FRET assays. Surprisingly, StarD13 suppressed cell invasion by inhibiting Cdc42-mediated invadopodia formation. Indeed, TKS4 staining and invadopodia assay revealed that StarD13 depletion increased Cdc42 activation as well as invadopodia formation and matrix degradation. Normal lung cells depleted of StarD13 also produced invadopodia, otherwise a unique hallmark of invasive cancer cells. Cdc42 knock down mimicked the effects of StarD13, while overexpression of a constitutively active Cdc42 mimicked the effects of its depletion. Finally, immunostaining and FRET analysis revealed the absence of StarD13 in invadopodia as compared to Cdc42, which was activated in invadopodia at the sites of matrix degradation. Conclusion: In conclusion, StarD13 plays distinct roles in lung cancer cell migration and invasion through its differential regulation of Rho GTPases. [MediaObject not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number144
JournalCell Communication and Signaling
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 8 2020


  • Invadopodia
  • Invasion
  • Migration
  • Rho GTPases
  • StarD13

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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