Rho, nuclear actin, and actin-binding proteins in the regulation of transcription and gene expression

Small GTPases. 2014;5:e27539. doi: 10.4161/sgtp.27539. Epub 2014 Mar 6.


Actin cytoskeleton is one of the main targets of Rho GTPases, which act as molecular switches on many signaling pathways. During the past decade, actin has emerged as an important regulator of gene expression. Nuclear actin plays a key role in transcription, chromatin remodeling, and pre-mRNA processing. In addition, the "status" of the actin cytoskeleton is used as a signaling intermediate by at least the MKL1-SRF and Hippo-pathways, which culminate in the transcriptional regulation of cytoskeletal and growth-promoting genes, respectively. Rho GTPases may therefore regulate gene expression by controlling either cytoplasmic or nuclear actin dynamics. Although the regulation of nuclear actin polymerization is still poorly understood, many actin-binding proteins, which are downstream effectors of Rho, are found in the nuclear compartment. In this review, we discuss the possible mechanisms and key proteins that may mediate the transcriptional regulation by Rho GTPases through actin.

Keywords: Hippo; MKL1; Rho GTPase; SRF; actin; nucleus.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton
  • Actins / genetics
  • Actins / metabolism*
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Microfilament Proteins / genetics
  • Microfilament Proteins / metabolism*
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*


  • Actins
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • Hippo protein, human
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins