GEFs: Dual regulation of Rac1 signaling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


GEFs play a critical role in regulating Rac1 signaling. They serve as signaling nodes converting upstream signals into downstream Rac1-driven cellular responses. Through associating with membrane-bound Rac1, GEFs facilitate the exchange of GDP for GTP, thereby activating Rac1. As a result, Rac1 undergoes conformational changes that mediate its interaction with downstream effectors, linking Rac1 to a multitude of physiological and pathological processes. Interestingly, there are at least 20 GEFs involved in Rac1 activation, suggesting a more complex role of GEFs in regulating Rac1 signaling apart from promoting the exchange of GDP for GTP. Indeed, accumulating evidence implicates GEFs in directing the specificity of Rac1-driven signaling cascades, although the underlying mechanisms were poorly defined. Recently, through conducting a comparative study, we highlighted the role of 2 Rac-specific GEFs, Tiam1 and P-Rex1, in dictating the biological outcome downstream of Rac1. Importantly, further proteomic analysis uncovered a GEF activity-independent function for both GEFs in modulating the Rac1 interactome, which results in the stimulation of GEF-specific signaling cascades. Here, we provide an overview of our recent findings and discuss the role of GEFs as master regulators of Rac1 signaling with a particular focus on GEF-mediated modulation of cell migration following Rac1 activation.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalSmall GTPases
Early online date17 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016