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Myoblasts and macrophages share molecular components that contribute to cell–cell fusion


Cell-cell fusion is critical to the normal development of certain tissues, yet the nature and degree of conservation of the underlying molecular components remains largely unknown. Here we show that the two guanine-nucleotide exchange factors Brag2 and Dock180 have evolutionarily conserved functions in the fusion of mammalian myoblasts. Their effects on muscle cell formation are distinct and are a result of the activation of the GTPases ARF6 and Rac, respectively. Inhibition of ARF6 activity results in a lack of physical association between paxillin and beta(1)-integrin, and disruption of paxillin transport to sites of focal adhesion. We show that fusion machinery is conserved among distinct cell types because Dock180 deficiency prevented fusion of macrophages and the formation of multinucleated giant cells. Our results are the first to demonstrate a role for a single protein in the fusion of two different cell types, and provide novel mechanistic insight into the function of GEFs in the morphological maturation of multinucleated cells.

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