Regulated secretory pathways are highly developed in multicellular organisms as a means of intercellular communication. Each of these pathways harbors unique store organelles, such as granules in endocrine and exocrine tissues and melanosomes in melanocytes. It has recently been shown that the monomeric GTPase Rab27 subfamily regulates the exocytosis of these cell-specific store organelles. Furthermore, genetic alterations of Rab27a cause Griscelli syndrome in humans that manifests as pigmentary dilution of the skin and the hair and variable immunodeficiency due to defects in the transport of melanosomes in melanocytes and lytic granules in cytotoxic T-lymphocytes. Rab27 acts through organelle-specific effector proteins, such as granuphilin in pancreatic beta cells and melanophilin in melanocytes. The Rab27 and effector complex then interacts with proteins that are essential for membrane transport and fusion, such as syntaxin 1a and Munc18-1 for granuphilin and myosin Va for melanophilin. Genome information suggests that other putative Rab27 effector proteins, tentatively termed as exophilins or Slp/Slac2, are predicted to exist because these proteins share the conserved N-terminal Rab27-binding domain and show Rab27-binding activity in vitro or when overexpressed in cell lines. These findings suggest that the Rab27 subfamily regulates various exocytotic pathways using multiple organelle-specific effector proteins.
2003 by Japan Society for Cell Biology