J. Cell. Sci. 130 (6) 1147-1157 [2017-03-15; online 2017-01-30]
Adaptation of cell shape and polarization through the formation and retraction of cellular protrusions requires balancing of endocytosis and exocytosis combined with fine-tuning of the local activity of small GTPases like Rab8. Here, we show that endocytic turnover of the plasma membrane at protrusions is directly coupled to surface removal and inactivation of Rab8. Removal is induced by reduced membrane tension and mediated by the GTPase regulator associated with focal adhesion kinase-1 (GRAF1, also known as ARHGAP26), a regulator of clathrin-independent endocytosis. GRAF1-depleted cells were deficient in multi-directional spreading and displayed elevated levels of GTP-loaded Rab8, which was accumulated at the tips of static protrusions. Furthermore, GRAF1 depletion impaired lumen formation and spindle orientation in a 3D cell culture system, indicating that GRAF1 activity regulates polarity establishment. Our data suggest that GRAF1-mediated removal of Rab8 from the cell surface restricts its activity during protrusion formation, thereby facilitating dynamic adjustment of the polarity axis.