Georgia Vlahou

University of Cologne, Köln, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

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Publications (6)13.09 Total impact

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    Georgia Vlahou, Francisco Rivero
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    ABSTRACT: Ras-related GTPases of the Miro family have been implicated in mitochondrial homeostasis and microtubule-dependent transport. They consist of two GTP-binding domains separated by calcium-binding motifs and of a C-terminal transmembrane domain that targets the protein to the outer mitochondrial membrane. We disrupted the single Miro-encoding gene in Dictyostelium discoideum and observed a substantial growth defect that we attribute to a decreased mitochondrial mass and cellular ATP content. However, mutant cells even showed an increased rate of oxygen consumption, while glucose consumption, mitochondrial transmembrane potential and production of reactive oxygen species were unaltered. Processes characteristic of the multicellular stage of the D. discoideum life cycle were also unaltered. Although mitochondria occasionally use microtubules for transport in D. discoideum, their size and distribution were not visibly affected. We found Miro in all branches of the eukaryotic tree with the exception of a few protist lineages (mainly those lacking typical mitochondria). Trypanosomatids and ciliates possess structurally unique homologs lacking the N-terminal or the C-terminal GTPase domain, respectively. We propose that in D. discoideum, as in yeasts and plants, Miro plays roles in mitochondrial homeostasis, but the ability to build a complex that regulates its association to kinesin for microtubule-dependent transport probably arose in metazoans.
    European journal of cell biology 04/2011; 90(4):342-55. · 3.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: All human pathogenic Yersinia species share a virulence-associated type III secretion system that translocates Yersinia effector proteins into host cells to counteract infection-induced signaling responses and prevent phagocytosis. Dictyostelium discoideum has been recently used to study the effects of bacterial virulence factors produced by internalized pathogens. In this study we explored the potential of Dictyostelium as model organism for analyzing the effects of ectopically expressed Yersinia outer proteins (Yops). The Yersinia pseudotuberculosis virulence factors YopE, YopH, YopM and YopJ were expressed de novo within Dictyostelium and their effects on growth in axenic medium and on bacterial lawns were analyzed. No severe effect was observed for YopH, YopJ and YopM, but expression of YopE, which is a GTPase activating protein for Rho GTPases, was found to be highly detrimental. GFP-tagged YopE expressing cells had less conspicuous cortical actin accumulation and decreased amounts of F-actin. The actin polymerization response upon cAMP stimulation was impaired, although chemotaxis was unaffected. YopE also caused reduced uptake of yeast particles. These alterations are probably due to impaired Rac1 activation. We also found that YopE predominantly associates with intracellular membranes including the Golgi apparatus and inhibits the function of moderately overexpressed RacH. The phenotype elicited by YopE in Dictyostelium can be explained, at least in part, by inactivation of one or more Rho family GTPases. It further demonstrates that the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum can be used as an efficient and easy-to-handle model organism in order to analyze the function of a translocated GAP protein of a human pathogen.
    BMC Microbiology 08/2009; 9:138. · 2.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: RacG is an unusual member of the complex family of Rho GTPases in Dictyostelium. We have generated a knockout (KO) strain, as well as strains that overexpress wild-type (WT), constitutively active (V12), or dominant negative (N17) RacG. The protein is targeted to the plasma membrane, apparently in a nucleotide-dependent manner, and induces the formation of abundant actin-driven filopods. RacG is enriched at the rim of the progressing phagocytic cup, and overexpression of RacG-WT or RacG-V12 induced an increased rate of particle uptake. The positive effect of RacG on phagocytosis was abolished in the presence of 50 microM LY294002, a phosphoinositide 3-kinase inhibitor, indicating that generation of phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-trisphosphate is required for activation of RacG. RacG-KO cells showed a moderate chemotaxis defect that was stronger in the RacG-V12 and RacG-N17 mutants, in part because of interference with signaling through Rac1. The in vivo effects of RacG-V12 could not be reproduced by a mutant lacking the Rho insert region, indicating that this region is essential for interaction with downstream components. Processes like growth, pinocytosis, exocytosis, cytokinesis, and development were unaffected in Rac-KO cells and in the overexpressor mutants. In a cell-free system, RacG induced actin polymerization upon GTPgammaS stimulation, and this response could be blocked by an Arp3 antibody. While the mild phenotype of RacG-KO cells indicates some overlap with one or more Dictyostelium Rho GTPases, like Rac1 and RacB, the significant changes found in overexpressors show that RacG plays important roles. We hypothesize that RacG interacts with a subset of effectors, in particular those concerned with shape, motility, and phagocytosis.
    Eukaryotic Cell 11/2006; 5(10):1648-63. · 3.59 Impact Factor
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    Georgia Vlahou, Francisco Rivero
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    ABSTRACT: Rho GTPases are ubiquitously expressed across the eukaryotes where they act as molecular switches participating in the regulation of many cellular processes. We present an inventory of proteins involved in Rho-regulated signaling pathways in Dictyostelium discoideum that have been identified in the completed genome sequence. In Dictyostelium the Rho family is encoded by 18 genes and one pseudogene. Some of the Rho GTPases (Rac1a/b/c, RacF1/F2 and RacB) are members of the Rac subfamily, and one, RacA, belongs to the RhoBTB subfamily. The Cdc42 and Rho subfamilies, characteristic of metazoa and fungi, are absent. The activities of these GTPases are regulated by two members of the RhoGDI family, by eight members of the Dock180/zizimin family and by a surprisingly large number of proteins carrying RhoGEF (42 genes) or RhoGAP (43 genes) domains or both (three genes). Most of these show domain compositions not found in other organisms, although some have clear homologs in metazoa and/or fungi. Among the (in many cases putative) effectors found in Dictyostelium are the CRIB domain proteins (WASP and two related proteins, eight PAK kinases and a novel gelsolin-related protein), components of the Scar/WAVE complex, 10 formins, four IQGAPs, two members of the PCH family, numerous lipid kinases and phospholipases, and components of the NADPH oxidase and the exocyst complexes. In general, the repertoire of Rho signaling components of Dictyostelium is similar to that of metazoa and fungi.
    European Journal of Cell Biology 10/2006; 85(9-10):947-59. · 3.21 Impact Factor