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Recent studies have demonstrated that the actin binding protein, ezrin, and the cAMP-sensor, EPAC1, cooperate to induce cell spreading in response to elevations in intracellular cAMP. To investigate the mechanisms underlying these effects we generated a model of EPAC1-dependent cell spreading based on the stable transfection of EPAC1 into HEK293T (HEK293T-EPAC1) cells. We found that direct activation of EPAC1 with the EPAC-selective analogue, 8-pCPT-2'-O-Me-cAMP (007), promoted cell spreading in these cells. In addition, co-activation of EPAC1 and PKA, with a combination of the adenylate cyclase activator, forskolin, and the cAMP phosphodiesterase inhibitor, rolipram, was found to synergistically enhance cell spreading, in association with cortical actin bundling and mobilisation of ezrin to the plasma membrane. PKA activation was also associated with phosphorylation of ezrin on Thr567, as detected by an electrophoretic band mobility shift during SDS-PAGE. Inhibition of PKA activity blocked ezrin phosphorylation and reduced the cell spreading response to cAMP elevation to levels induced by EPAC1-activation alone. Transfection of HEK293T-EPAC1 cells with inhibitory ezrin mutants lacking the key PKA phosphorylation site, ezrin-Thr567Ala, or the ability to associate with actin, ezrin-Arg579Ala, promoted cell arborisation and blocked the ability of EPAC1 and PKA to further promote cell spreading. The PKA phospho-mimetic mutants of ezrin, ezrin-Thr567Asp had no effect on EPAC1-driven cell spreading. Our results indicate that association of ezrin with the actin cytoskeleton and phosphorylation on Thr567 are required, but not sufficient, for PKA and EPAC1 to synergistically promote cell spreading following elevations in intracellular cAMP.

Original publication




Journal article


Biochim Biophys Acta

Publication Date





1749 - 1758


Cell morphology, Cyclic AMP, Cytoskeleton, EPAC1, Animals, COS Cells, Cell Membrane, Cell Movement, Chlorocebus aethiops, Cyclic AMP, Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases, Cytoskeletal Proteins, Cytoskeleton, Genes, Dominant, Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors, HEK293 Cells, Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells, Humans, Microfilament Proteins, Phosphorylation, Phosphothreonine, Protein Kinase Inhibitors