Vav proteins act as tyrosine phosphorylation-regulated guanosine nucleotide exchange factors for Rho GTPases and as molecular scaffolds. In mammals, this family of signaling proteins is composed of three members (Vav1, Vav2, Vav3) that work downstream of protein tyrosine kinases in a wide variety of cellular processes. Recent work with genetically modified mouse models has revealed that these proteins play key signaling roles in vascular smooth and skeletal muscle cells, specific neuronal subtypes, and glia cells. These functions, in turn, ensure the proper regulation of blood pressure levels, skeletal muscle mass, axonal wiring, and fiber myelination events as well as systemic metabolic balance. The study of these mice has also led to the discovery of new physiological interconnection among tissues that contribute to the ontogeny and progression of different pathologies such as, for example, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome. Here, we provide an integrated view of all these new Vav family-dependent signaling and physiological functions.
Keywords: axon wiring; blood pressure; cytoskeleton; glia; hypertension; metabolic syndrome; myelination; neurons; nitric oxide; obesity; protein tyrosine kinases; receptor internalization; signaling; skeletal muscle cells; sympathetic nervous system; type II diabetes; vascular smooth muscle cells; vasoconstriction; vasodilation; ventrolateral medulla.