Evidence of Rab3A expression, regulation of vesicle trafficking, and cellular secretion in response to heregulin in mammary epithelial cells

R. K. Vadlamudi, R. A. Wang, A. H. Talukder, L. Adam, R. Johnson, R. Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Heregulin β1 (HRG), a combinatorial ligand for human growth factor receptors 3 and 4, is a regulatory polypeptide that promotes the differentiation of mammary epithelial cells into secretory lobuloalveoli. Emerging evidence suggests that the processes of secretory pathways, such as biogenesis and trafficking of vesicles in neurons and adipose cells, are regulated by the Rab family of low-molecular-weight GTPases. In this study, we identified Rab3A as a gene product induced by HRG. Full-length Rab3A was cloned from a mammary gland cDNA library. We demonstrated that HRG stimulation of human breast cancer cells and normal breast epithelial cells induces the expression of Rab3A protein and mRNA in a cycloheximide-independent manner. HRG-mediated induction of Rab3A expression was blocked by an inhibitor of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase but not by inhibitors of mitogen-activated protein kinases p38MAPK and p42/44MAPK. Human breast epithelial cells also express other components of regulated vesicular traffic, such as rabphilin 3A, Doc2, and syntaxin. Rab3A was predominantly localized in the cytosol, and HRG stimulation of the epithelial cells also raised the level of membrane-bound Rab3A. HRG treatment induced a profound alteration in the cell morphology in which cells displayed neuron-like membrane extensions that contained Rab3A-coated, vesicle-like structures. In addition, HRG also promoted the secretion of cellular proteins from the mammary epithelial cells. The ability of HRG to modify exocytosis was verified by using a growth hormone transient-transfection system. Analysis of mouse mammary gland development revealed the expression of Rab3A in mammary epithelial cells. Furthermore, expression of the HRG transgene in Harderian tumors in mice also enhanced the expression of Rab3A. These observations provide new evidence of the existence of a Rab3A pathway in mammary epithelial cells and suggest that it may play a role in vesicle trafficking and secretion of proteins from epithelial cells in response to stimulation by the HRG expressed within the mammary mesenchyma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9092-9101
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number23
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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