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 Cdc42(fl/fl) mouse with a FSP-1 cre mouse, which is thought to mediate recombination exclusively in fibroblasts. Surprisingly, the FSP-1cre;Cdc42(fl/fl) mice 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 showed that in addition to fibroblasts, the FSP-1 cre deleted Cdc42 very efficiently in all leukocytes. Thus, by using this non-specific 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.
Infection and Immunity, 2013, Vol 81, Issue 8, p. 2714-2723