Dynamics of the Rho-family small GTPases in actin regulation and motility

Cell Adh Migr. Mar-Apr 2011;5(2):170-80. doi: 10.4161/cam.5.2.14403. Epub 2011 Mar 1.


The p21 Rho-family of small GTPases are master regulators of actin cytoskeleton rearrangements. Their functions have been well characterized in terms of their effects toward various actin-modulating protein targets. However, more recent studies have shown that the dynamics of Rho GTPase activities are highly complex and tightly regulated in order to achieve their specific subcellular localization. Furthermore, these localized effects are highly dynamic, often spanning the time-scale of seconds, making the interpretation of traditional biochemical approaches inadequate to fully decipher these rapid mechanisms in vivo. Here, we provide an overview of Rho family GTPase biology, and introduce state-of-the-art approaches to study the dynamics of these important signaling proteins that ultimately coordinate the actin cytoskeleton rearrangements during cell migration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Biosensing Techniques / methods
  • Cell Migration Assays
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Polarity
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / genetics
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cytoskeleton / enzymology
  • Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer
  • Gene Expression
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / analysis
  • Immunoprecipitation
  • Isoenzymes / genetics
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Optical Phenomena
  • Polymerization
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*


  • Actins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Isoenzymes
  • actin-modulating proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins