RhoA can lead the way in tumor cell invasion and metastasis

Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2011 Jan 1;16:1915-26. doi: 10.2741/3830.


The Rho family of GTPases is well-established regulators of cell migration, and has been implicated in the process of tumor cell invasion and metastasis. The RhoA signaling pathway is strongly correlated with the ability of tumor cells to invade and successfully establish metastases. In this review, we begin by discussing the gene expression data correlating Rho expression with metastasis, and then discuss two emerging concepts that help explain the underlying mechanisms by which RhoA may promote tumor metastasis. First, the use of sophisticated biosensor probes has revealed that RhoA is active in membrane protrusions. Second, the RhoA pathway affects the invasive behavior of tumor cells by promoting invadopodia, amoeboid migration, and the plasticity of tumor cells to modulate their migratory properties. Thus, our view of the role of the RhoA pathway in metastasis is evolving to include a previously unappreciated function at the leading edge.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / physiology
  • Formins
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / physiology
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / physiopathology*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / physiopathology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / biosynthesis
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • rho-Associated Kinases / physiology
  • rhoA GTP-Binding Protein / physiology*
  • rhoC GTP-Binding Protein


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • DIAPH1 protein, human
  • Formins
  • MIRN10 microRNA, human
  • MIRN31 microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs
  • rho-Associated Kinases
  • RHOC protein, human
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins
  • rhoA GTP-Binding Protein
  • rhoC GTP-Binding Protein