Preventing the activation or cycling of the Rap1 GTPase alters adhesion and cytoskeletal dynamics and blocks metastatic melanoma cell extravasation into the lungs.
The Rap1 GTPase is a master regulator of cell adhesion, polarity, and migration. We show that both blocking Rap1 activation and expressing a constitutively active form of Rap1 reduced the ability of B16F1 melanoma cells to extravasate from the microvasculature and form metastatic lesions in the lungs. This correlated with a decreased ability of the tumor cells to undergo transendothelial migration (TEM) in vitro and form dynamic, F-actin-rich pseudopodia that penetrate capillary endothelial walls in vivo. Using multiple tumor cell lines, we show that the inability to form these membrane protrusions, which likely promote TEM and extravasation, can be explained by altered adhesion dynamics and impaired cell polarization that result when Rap1 activation or cycling is perturbed. Thus, targeting Rap1 could be a useful approach for reducing the metastatic dissemination of tumor cells that undergo active TEM. Copyright 2010 AACR.