2015 Volume 38 Issue 5 Pages 663-668
Small guanosine triphosphatases (GTPases) participate in a wide variety of cellular functions including proliferation, differentiation, adhesion, and intracellular transport. Conventionally, only the guanosine 5′-triphosphate (GTP)-bound small GTPase interacts with effector proteins, and the resulting downstream signals control specific cellular functions. Therefore, the GTP-bound form is regarded as active, and the focus has been on searching for proteins that bind the GTP form to look for their effectors. The Rab family small GTPase Rab27a is highly expressed in some secretory cells and is involved in the control of membrane traffic. The present study reviews recent progress in our understanding of the roles of Rab27a and its effectors in pancreatic beta-cells. In the basal state, GTP-bound Rab27a controls insulin secretion at pre-exocytic stages via its GTP-dependent effectors. We previously identified novel guanosine 5′-diphosphate (GDP)-bound Rab27-interacting proteins. Interestingly, GDP-bound Rab27a controls endocytosis of the secretory membrane via its interaction with these proteins. We also demonstrated that the insulin secretagogue glucose converts Rab27a from its GTP- to GDP-bound forms. Thus, GTP- and GDP-bound Rab27a regulate pre-exocytic and endocytic stages in membrane traffic, respectively. Since the physiological importance of GDP-bound GTPases has been largely overlooked, we consider that the investigation of GDP-dependent effectors for other GTPases is necessary for further understanding of cellular function.