- Liu Y, Belkina NV, Park C, Nambiar R, Loughhead SM, Patino-Lopez G, Ben-Aissa K, Hao JJ, Kruhlak MJ, Qi H, Von Andrian UH, Kehrl JH, Tyska MJ, Shaw S. Constitutively active ezrin increases membrane tension, slows migration, and impedes endothelial transmigration of lymphocytes in vivo in mice. Blood. 2012 Jan 12;119(2). 445-53. PMID: 22106344 [PubMed]. PMCID: PMC3257010.
ERM (ezrin, radixin moesin) proteins in lymphocytes link cortical actin to plasma membrane, which is regulated in part by ERM protein phosphorylation. To assess whether phosphorylation of ERM proteins regulates lymphocyte migration and membrane tension, we generated transgenic mice whose T-lymphocytes express low levels of ezrin phosphomimetic protein (T567E). In these mice, T-cell number in lymph nodes was reduced by 27%. Lymphocyte migration rate in vitro and in vivo in lymph nodes decreased by 18% to 47%. Lymphocyte membrane tension increased by 71%. Investigations of other possible underlying mechanisms revealed impaired chemokine-induced shape change/lamellipod extension and increased integrin-mediated adhesion. Notably, lymphocyte homing to lymph nodes was decreased by 30%. Unlike most described homing defects, there was not impaired rolling or sticking to lymph node vascular endothelium but rather decreased migration across that endothelium. Moreover, decreased numbers of transgenic T cells in efferent lymph suggested defective egress. These studies confirm the critical role of ERM dephosphorylation in regulating lymphocyte migration and transmigration. Of particular note, they identify phospho-ERM as the first described regulator of lymphocyte membrane tension, whose increase probably contributes to the multiple defects observed in the ezrin T567E transgenic mice.