Rho GTPase signaling in the development of colorectal cancer

J Cell Biochem. 2012 Aug;113(8):2549-59. doi: 10.1002/jcb.24153.


The involvement of Rho GTPases in major aspects of cancer development, such as cell proliferation, apoptosis, cell polarity, adhesion, migration, and invasion, have recently been attracting increasing attention. In this review, we have summarized the current findings in the literature, and we discuss the participation of the Rho GTPase members RhoA, Rac1, and Cdc42 in the development of colorectal cancer, the second most lethal neoplasia worldwide. First, we present an overview of the mechanisms of Rho GTPase regulation and the impact that regulator proteins exert on GTPase signaling. Second, we focus on the participation of Rho GTPases as modulators of colorectal cancer development. Third, we emphasize the involvement of activation and expression alterations of Rho GTPases in events associated with cancer progression, such as loss of cell-cell adhesion, proliferation, migration, and invasion. Finally, we highlight the potential use of novel anticancer drugs targeting specific components of the Rho GTPase signaling pathway with antineoplastic activity in this cancer type.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Humans
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*


  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins