The p21-activated kinases (PAKs) play essential roles in diverse cellular processes and are required for cell proliferation, apoptosis, polarity establishment, migration, and cell shape changes. Here, we have identified a novel function for the group I PAKs in cell-cell fusion. We show that the two Drosophila group I PAKs, DPak3 and DPak1, have partially redundant functions in myoblast fusion in vivo, with DPak3 playing a major role. DPak3 is enriched at the site of fusion colocalizing with the F-actin focus within a podosome-like structure (PLS), and promotes actin filament assembly during PLS invasion. Although the small GTPase Rac is involved in DPak3 activation and recruitment to the PLS, the kinase activity of DPak3 is required for effective PLS invasion. We propose a model whereby group I PAKs act downstream of Rac to organize the actin filaments within the PLS into a dense focus, which in turn promotes PLS invasion and fusion pore initiation during myoblast fusion.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology