Overexpression of ROCK in human breast cancer cells: Evidence that ROCK activity mediates intracellular membrane traffic of lysosomes

Yukio Nishimura, Kazuyuki Itoh, Kiyoko Yoshioka, Kazuo Tokuda, Masaru Himeno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Small GTPase Rho and its downstream effectors, ROCK family of Rho-associated serine-threonine kinases, are thought to participate in cell morphology, motility, and tumor progression through regulating the rearrangement of actin cytoskeleton. Here we present evidence that transfection of human breast cancer cells with cDNA encoding a dominant active mutant of ROCK causes dispersal of lysosomal vesicles throughout the cytoplasm without perturbing the machinery of the endocytic pathway. The intracellular distribution of lysosomes and endocytosed transferrin, an early endosomal marker, were further assessed by confocal immunofluorescence microscopy. In the active ROCK transfected cells the lysosomal proteins, cathepsin D, LIMPII, and LAMP1, were found throughout the cytoplasm in dispersed small vesicles, which were accessible to the endocytosed Texas Red-labeled transferrin. 3D-image analysis of lysosomal distribution in the active ROCK-transfectants revealed abundant punctate signals in the peripheral region of the basal plasma membrane. Cells expressing vector alone did not exhibit these alterations. Wortmannin, a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitor, induced LIMPII-positive/transferrin negative large vacuoles in the perinuclear region, and disappearence of the dispersed small vesicular structures. To our knowledge, this is the first evidence that increasing ROCK expression contributes to selective cellular dispersion of lysosomes in invasive breast cancer cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-95
Number of pages13
JournalPathology and Oncology Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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