Rab small GTPases are highly conserved master regulators of membrane traffic in all eukaryotes. The same as the activation and inactivation of other small GTPases, the activation and inactivation of Rabs are tightly controlled by specific GEFs (guanine nucleotide exchange factors) and GAPs (GTPase-activating proteins), respectively. Although almost all Rab-GAPs reported thus far have a TBC (Tre-2/Bub2/Cdc16)/Rab-GAP domain in common, recent accumulating evidence has indicated the existence of a number of structurally unrelated types of Rab-GEFs, including DENN proteins, VPS9 proteins, Sec2 proteins, TRAPP complexes, heterodimer GEFs (Mon1–Ccz1, HPS1–HPS4 (BLOC-3 complex), Ric1–Rgp1 and Rab3GAP1/2), and other GEFs (e.g., REI-1 and RPGR). In this review article we provide an up-to-date overview of the structures and functions of all putative Rab-GEFs in mammals, with a special focus on their substrate Rabs, interacting proteins, associations with genetic diseases, and intracellular localizations.
The Ras-ERK pathway controls cell proliferation and differentiation, whereas the PI3K-Akt pathway plays a role in the process of cell-cycle progression and cell survival. Both pathways are activated by many stimuli such as epidermal growth factor (EGF), and coordinately regulate each other through cross-talk. However, it remains unclear how cells accommodate the dynamics and interplay between the Ras-ERK and PI3K-Akt pathways to regulate cell-fate decisions, mainly because of the lack of good tools to visualize ERK and Akt activities simultaneously in live cells. Here, we developed a multiplexed fluorescence system for imaging ERK and Akt signaling and the cell-cycle status at the single cell level. Based on the principle of the kinase translocation reporter (KTR), we created Akt-FoxO3a-KTR, which shuttled between nucleus and cytoplasm in a manner regulated by Akt phosphorylation. To simultaneously measure ERK, Akt and the cell-cycle status, we generated a polycistronic vector expressing ERK-KTR, Akt-FoxO3a-KTR, a cell-cycle reporter and a nuclear reporter, and applied linear unmixing to these four images to remove spectral overlap among fluorescent proteins. The specificity and sensitivity of ERK-KTR and Akt-FoxO3a-KTR were characterized quantitatively. We examined the cellular heterogeneity of relationship between ERK and Akt activities under a basal or EGF-stimulated condition, and found that ERK and Akt were regulated in a highly cooperative and cell-cycle-dependent manner. Our study provides a useful tool for quantifying the dynamics among ERK and Akt activities and the cell cycle in a live cell, and for addressing the mechanisms underlying intrinsic resistance to molecularly targeted drugs.