Rho GTPases are regulatory proteins whose patterns on the surface of a cell affect cell polarization, cell motility and repair of single-cell wounds. The stereotypical patterns formed by two such proteins, Rho and Cdc42, around laser-injured frog oocytes permit experimental analysis of GTPase activation, inactivation, segregation and crosstalk. Here, we review the development and analysis of a spatial model of GTPase dynamics that describe the formation of concentric zones of Rho and Cdc42 activity around wounds, and describe how this model has provided insights into the roles of the GTPase effector molecules protein kinase C (PKCβ and PKCη) and guanosine nucleotide dissociation inhibitor (GDI) in the wound response. We further demonstrate how the use of a ‘sharp switch’ model approximation in combination with bifurcation analysis can aid mapping the model behaviour in parameter space (approximate results confirmed with numerical simulation methods). Using these methods in combination with experimental manipulation of PKC activity (PKC overexpression (OE) and dominant negative conditions), we have shown that: (i) PKCβ most probably acts by enhancing existing positive feedbacks (from Rho to itself via the guanosine nucleotide exchange factor domain of Abr, and from Cdc42 to itself), (ii) PKCη most probably increases basal rates of inactivation (or possibly decreases basal rates of activation) of Rho and Cdc42, and (iii) the graded distribution of PKCη and its effect on initial Rho activity accounts for inversion of zones in a fraction (20%) of PKCη OE cells. Finally, we speculate that GDIs (which sequester GTPases) may have a critical role in defining the spatial domain, where the wound response may occur. This paper provides a more thorough exposition of the methods of analysis used in the investigation, whereas previous work on this topic was addressed to biologists and abbreviated such discussion.
One contribution of 12 to a theme issue ‘Coupling geometric partial differential equations with physics for cell morphology, motility and pattern formation’.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
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