The mechanism of cell membrane ruffling relies on a phospholipase D2 (PLD2), Grb2 and Rac2 association

Madhu Mahankali, Hong Juan Peng, Dianne Cox, Julian Gomez-Cambronero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Membrane ruffling is the formation of actin rich membrane protrusions, essential for cell motility. The exact mechanism of ruffling is not fully known. Using YFP and CFP fluorescent chimeras, we show for the first time a co-localization of Phospholipase D2 (PLD2) and Growth factor Receptor Bound protein-2 (Grb2) with actin-rich membrane protrusions of macrophages. Grb2 cooperates with PLD2 in enhancing membrane ruffling, whether in resting cells or in cells stimulated with the growth factor M-CSF, although in the latter an increase in dorsal ruffles was observed, consistent with receptor-ligand internalization. Cells transfected with PLD2 mutated in the PH domain (Y169F) or with Grb2 mutated in the SH2 site (R86K) negate this effect, indicating an association PLD2(Y169)-SH2-Grb2 that was confirmed by immunoprecipitation and Western blotting. The association results in enhanced PLD activity, but the lipase activity can only partially explain the formation of membrane ruffles in vivo. A third component involves the Rho-GTPase Rac2 and it is only when Rac2 is overexpressed along with PLD2 and Rac2 that a full biological effect, including actin polymerization in vivo, is obtained. The mechanism involved is, then, as follows: PLD enzymatic action, after having been increased due to the binding to Grb2-SH2 via Y169, cooperates with Rac2, and the three molecules stimulate actin polymerization and consequently, membrane ruffle formation. Since membrane ruffling precedes cell migration, the results herein provide a novel mechanism for control of membrane dynamics, crucial for the physiology of leukocytes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1291-1298
Number of pages8
JournalCellular Signalling
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2011


  • Actin polymerization
  • Cell membrane protrusion
  • Chemotaxis
  • Grb2
  • Immune function
  • PLD
  • Phagocytes
  • Protein-protein interaction
  • Rac

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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