Erythrocyte p55 is a prototypical member of a family of scaffolding proteins known as Membrane Associated Guanylate Kinase Homologues (MAGUKs). MAGUKs are multi-domain proteins that couple signals from specialized sites at the plasma membrane to intracellular signal transduction pathways and the cytoskeleton. P55 was originally identified in the erythrocytes as part of a ternary complex with protein 4.1R and glycophorin C, providing a critical linkage between the actin cytoskeleton and the plasma membrane. Although p55 is expressed in a variety of tissues, especially hematopoietic cells, its biological function is unclear. Here, using a p55 knockout mouse model, we show that p55 plays a prominent role in the regulation of neutrophil polarization. Neutrophils are the first respondents during infection and injury, adopting a highly polarized morphology when stimulated with chemotactic factors. G proteincoupled surface receptors recognize the external chemotactic gradient and translate it into an internal gradient of signaling molecules. At the front of the cell, accumulation of the lipid product phosphatidylinositol-3,4,5-trisphosphate (PIP3), activation of the small GTPase Rac, and polymerization of F-actin stimulates a positive feedback loop promoting pseudopod formation. Here, we show that neutrophils lacking p55 form multiple transient pseudopods at the sides and back of the cell upon stimulation. P55 is required for limiting the pseudopod in the direction of chemoattractant. As a result, these neutrophils do not migrate efficiently up a chemotactic gradient in vitro. Biochemical analysis indicates that total F-actin polymerization and total Rac activation is similar between wild type and p55 knockout neutrophils. However, we found that phosphorylation of AKT, the major kinase downstream of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-PIP3 pathway, is almost completely blocked in p55 knockout neutrophils. This finding suggests that p55 exerts its functional effect by regulating PIP3 accumulation or its localization at the membrane, which is responsible for amplification of the frontness signal and stability of the leading edge pseudopod. Consistent with this finding, the p55 null mice are significantly more susceptible to spontaneous and induced infections. Taken together, we have identified p55 as a novel mediator of the frontness signal in neutrophils that promotes polarization and efficient chemotaxis.

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