The small GTPase RhoA is a master regulator of signalling in cell-extracellular matrix interactions. RhoA signalling is critical to many cellular processes including migration, mechanotransduction, and is often disrupted in carcinogenesis. Investigating RhoA activity in a native tissue environment is challenging using conventional biochemical methods; we therefore developed a RhoA-FRET biosensor mouse, employing the adaptable nature of intravital imaging to a variety of settings. Mechanotransduction was explored in the context of osteocyte processes embedded in the calvaria responding in a directional manner to compression stress. Further, the migration of neutrophils was examined during in vivo "chemotaxis" in wound response. RhoA activity was tightly regulated during tissue remodelling in mammary gestation, as well as during mammary and pancreatic carcinogenesis. Finally, pharmacological inhibition of RhoA was temporally resolved by the use of optical imaging windows in fully developed pancreatic and mammary tumours in vivo. The RhoA-FRET mouse therefore constitutes a powerful tool to facilitate development of new inhibitors targeting the RhoA signalling axis.
Keywords: FLIM; FRET; Intravital imaging; Rho-GTPases; RhoA; biosensors; breast cancer; extracellular matrix; pancreatic cancer.