Rab GTPase mediated procollagen trafficking in ascorbic acid stimulated osteoblasts.
Despite advances in investigating functional aspects of osteoblast (OB) differentiation, especially studies on how bone proteins are deposited and mineralized, there has been little research on the intracellular trafficking of bone proteins during OB differentiation. Collagen synthesis and secretion is the major function of OBs and is markedly up-regulated upon ascorbic acid (AA) stimulation, significantly more so than in fibroblast cells. Understanding the mechanism by which collagen is mobilized in specialized OB cells is important for both basic cell biology and diseases involving defects in bone protein secretion and deposition. Protein trafficking along the exocytic and endocytic pathways is aided by many molecules, with Rab GTPases being master regulators of vesicle targeting. In this study, we used microarray analysis to identify the Rab GTPases that are up-regulated during a 5-day AA differentiation of OBs, namely Rab1, Rab3d, and Rab27b. Further, we investigated the role of identified Rabs in regulating the trafficking of collagen from the site of synthesis in the ER to the Golgi and ultimately to the plasma membrane utilizing Rab dominant negative (DN) expression. We also observed that experimental halting of biosynthetic trafficking by these mutant Rabs initiated proteasome-mediated degradation of procollagen and ceased global protein translation. Acute expression of Rab1 and Rab3d DN constructs partially alleviated this negative feedback mechanism and resulted in impaired ER to Golgi trafficking of procollagen. Similar expression of Rab27b DN constructs resulted in dispersed collagen vesicles which may represent failed secretory vesicles sequestered in the cytosol. A significant and strong reduction in extracellular collagen levels was also observed implicating the functional importance of Rab1, Rab3d and Rab27b in these major collagen-producing cells.