Within blood vessels, endothelial cellâ€"cell and cellâ€"matrix adhesions are crucial to preserve barrier function, and these adhesions are tightly controlled during vascular development, angiogenesis, and transendothelial migration of inflammatory cells. Endothelial cellular signaling that occurs via the family of Rho GTPases coordinates these cell adhesion structures through cytoskeletal remodelling. In turn, Rho GTPases are regulated by GTPase-activating proteins (GAPs) and guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs). To understand how endothelial cells initiate changes in the activity of Rho GTPases, and thereby regulate cell adhesion, we will discuss the role of Rho GAPs and GEFs in vascular biology. Many potentially important Rho regulators have not been studied in detail in endothelial cells. We therefore will first overview which GAPs and GEFs are highly expressed in endothelium, based on comparative gene expression analysis of human endothelial cells compared with other tissue cell types. Subsequently, we discuss the relevance of Rho GAPs and GEFs for endothelial cell adhesion in vascular homeostasis and disease.
Keywords: Cdc42; GDI; Rac; Rho GTPase; VE-cadherin; adherens junction; adhesion; angiogenesis; inflammation; integrin.