Rho GTPase Signalling Pathways in the Morphological Changes Associated With Apoptosis

Cell Death Differ. 2002 May;9(5):493-504. doi: 10.1038/sj.cdd.4400987.


The killing and removal of superfluous cells is an important step during embryonic development, tissue homeostasis, wound repair and the resolution of inflammation. A specific sequence of biochemical events leads to a form of cell death termed apoptosis, and ultimately to the disassembly of the dead cell for phagocytosis. Dynamic rearrangements of the actin cytoskeleton are central to the morphological changes observed both in apoptosis and phagocytosis. Recent research has highlighted the importance of Rho GTPase signalling pathways to these changes in cellular architecture. In this review, we will discuss how these signal transduction pathways affect the structure of the actin cytoskeleton and allow for the efficient clearance of apoptotic cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton / chemistry
  • Actin Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins*
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mammals / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Phagocytosis / genetics
  • Phagocytosis / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • ced-1 protein, C elegans
  • Caspases
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins