Rac3 regulates breast cancer invasion and metastasis by controlling adhesion and matrix degradation

Sara K. Donnelly, Ramon Cabrera, Serena P.H. Mao, John R. Christin, Bin Wu, Wenjun Guo, Jose Javier Bravo-Cordero, John S. Condeelis, Jeffrey E. Segall, Louis Hodgson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


The initial step of metastasis is the local invasion of tumor cells into the surrounding tissue. Invadopodia are actinbased protrusions that mediate the matrix degradation necessary for invasion and metastasis of tumor cells. We demonstrate that Rac3 GTPase is critical for integrating the adhesion of invadopodia to the extracellular matrix (ECM) with their ability to degrade the ECM in breast tumor cells. We identify two pathways at invadopodia important for integrin activation and delivery of matrix metalloproteinases: through the upstream recruiter CIB1 as well as the downstream effector GIT1. Rac3 activity, at and surrounding invadopodia, is controlled by Vav2 and βPIX. These guanine nucleotide exchange factors regulate the spatiotemporal dynamics of Rac3 activity, impacting GIT1 localization. Moreover, the GTPase-activating function of GIT1 toward the vesicular trafficking regulator Arf6 GTPase is required for matrix degradation. Importantly, Rac3 regulates the ability of tumor cells to metastasize in vivo. The Rac3-dependent mechanisms we show in this study are critical for balancing proteolytic activity and adhesive activity to achieve a maximally invasive phenotype.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4331-4349
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2017


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