Grab recruitment by Rab27A-Rabphilin3a triggers Rab3A activation in human sperm exocytosis

María Florencia Quevedo, Matías Alberto Bustos, Diego Masone, Carlos Marcelo Roggero, Diego Martín Bustos, Claudia Nora Tomes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Sperm must undergo the regulated exocytosis of its dense core granule (the acrosome reaction, AR) to fertilize the egg. We have previously described that Rabs3 and 27 are organized in a RabGEF cascade within the signaling pathway elicited by exocytosis stimuli in human sperm. Here, we report the identity and the role of two molecules that link these secretory Rabs in the RabGEF cascade: Rabphilin3a and GRAB. Like Rab3 and Rab27, GRAB and Rabphilin3a are present, localize to the acrosomal region and are required for calcium-triggered exocytosis in human sperm. Sequestration of either protein with specific antibodies introduced into streptolysin O-permeabilized sperm impairs the activation of Rab3 in the acrosomal region elicited by calcium, but not that of Rab27. Biochemical and functional assays indicate that Rabphilin3a behaves as a Rab27 effector during the AR and that GRAB exhibits GEF activity toward Rab3A. Recombinant, active Rab27A pulls down Rabphilin3a and GRAB from human sperm extracts. Conversely, immobilized Rabphilin3a recruits Rab27 and GRAB; the latter promotes Rab3A activation. The enzymatic activity of GRAB toward Rab3A was also suggested by in silico and in vitro assays with purified proteins. In summary, we describe here a signaling module where Rab27A-GTP interacts with Rabphilin3a, which in turn recruits a guanine nucleotide-exchange activity toward Rab3A. This is the first description of the interaction of Rabphilin3a with a GEF. Because the machinery that drives exocytosis is highly conserved, it is tempting to hypothesize that the RabGEF cascade unveiled here might be part of the molecular mechanisms that drive exocytosis in other secretory systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)612-622
Number of pages11
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • Exocytosis
  • GRAB
  • RabGEF cascade
  • Rabphilin3a
  • Sperm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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