RhoG regulates endothelial apical cup assembly downstream from ICAM1 engagement and is involved in leukocyte trans-endothelial migration.
During trans-endothelial migration (TEM), leukocytes use adhesion receptors such as intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM1) to adhere to the endothelium. In response to this interaction, the endothelium throws up dynamic membrane protrusions, forming a cup that partially surrounds the adherent leukocyte. Little is known about the signaling pathways that regulate cup formation. In this study, we show that RhoG is activated downstream from ICAM1 engagement. This activation requires the intracellular domain of ICAM1. ICAM1 colocalizes with RhoG and binds to the RhoG-specific SH3-containing guanine-nucleotide exchange factor (SGEF). The SH3 domain of SGEF mediates this interaction. Depletion of endothelial RhoG by small interfering RNA does not affect leukocyte adhesion but decreases cup formation and inhibits leukocyte TEM. Silencing SGEF also results in a substantial reduction in RhoG activity, cup formation, and TEM. Together, these results identify a new signaling pathway involving RhoG and its exchange factor SGEF downstream from ICAM1 that is critical for leukocyte TEM.