The small Rho GTPase Cdc42 regulates key signaling pathways required for multiple cell functions, including maintenance of shape, polarity, proliferation, invasion, migration, differentiation, and morphogenesis. As the role of Cdc42-dependent signaling in fibroblasts in vivo is unknown, we attempted to specifically delete it in these cells by crossing the Cdc42fl/flmouse with an fibroblast-specific protein 1 (FSP1)-Cre mouse, which is thought to mediate recombination exclusively in fibroblasts. Surprisingly, the FSP1-Cre;Cdc42fl/flmice died at 3 weeks of age due to overwhelming suppurative upper airway infections that were associated with neutrophilia and lymphopenia. Even though major aberrations in lymphoid tissue development were present in the mice, the principal cause of death was severe migration and killing abnormalities of the neutrophil population resulting in an inability to control infection. We also show that in addition to fibroblasts, FSP1-Cre deleted Cdc42 very efficiently in all leukocytes. Thus, by using this nonspecific Cre mouse, we inadvertently demonstrated the importance of Cdc42 in host protection from lethal infections and suggest a critical role for this small GTPase in innate immunity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases