Structural Mechanisms and Drug Discovery Prospects of Rho GTPases.
ABSTRACT: Rho GTPases regulate cellular morphology and dynamics, and some are key drivers of cancer progression. This superfamily offers attractive potential targets for therapeutic intervention, with RhoA, Rac1 and Cdc42 being prime examples. The challenges in developing agents that act on these signaling enzymes include the lack of obvious druggable pockets and their membrane-bound activities. However, progress in targeting the similar Ras protein is illuminating new strategies for specifically inhibiting oncogenic GTPases. The structures of multiple signaling and regulatory states of Rho proteins have been determined, and the post-translational modifications including acylation and phosphorylation points have been mapped and their functional effects examined. The development of inhibitors to probe the significance of overexpression and mutational hyperactivation of these GTPases underscores their importance in cancer progression. The ability to integrate in silico, in vitro, and in vivo investigations of drug-like molecules indicates the growing tractability of GTPase systems for lead optimization. Although no Rho-targeted drug molecules have yet been clinically approved, this family is clearly showing increasing promise for the development of precision medicine and combination cancer therapies.
Project description:Rho GTPases are master regulators of actomyosin structure and dynamics and play pivotal roles in a variety of cellular processes including cell morphology, gene transcription, cell cycle progression, and cell adhesion. Because aberrant Rho GTPase signaling activities are widely associated with human cancer, key components of Rho GTPase signaling pathways have attracted increasing interest as potential therapeutic targets. Similar to Ras, Rho GTPases themselves were, until recently, deemed "undruggable" because of structure-function considerations. Several approaches to interfere with Rho GTPase signaling have been explored and show promise as new ways for tackling cancer cells.This review focuses on the recent progress in targeting the signaling activities of three prototypical Rho GTPases, that is, RhoA, Rac1, and Cdc42. The authors describe the involvement of these Rho GTPases, their key regulators and effectors in cancer. Furthermore, the authors discuss the current approaches for rationally targeting aberrant Rho GTPases along their signaling cascades, upstream and downstream of Rho GTPases, and posttranslational modifications at a molecular level.To date, while no clinically effective drugs targeting Rho GTPase signaling for cancer treatment are available, tool compounds and lead drugs that pharmacologically inhibit Rho GTPase pathways have shown promise. Small-molecule inhibitors targeting Rho GTPase signaling may add new treatment options for future precision cancer therapy, particularly in combination with other anti-cancer agents.
Project description:Rho GTPases are molecular switches that regulate many essential cellular processes, including actin dynamics, gene transcription, cell-cycle progression and cell adhesion. About 30 potential effector proteins have been identified that interact with members of the Rho family, but it is still unclear which of these are responsible for the diverse biological effects of Rho GTPases. This review will discuss how Rho GTPases physically interact with, and regulate the activity of, multiple effector proteins and how specific effector proteins contribute to cellular responses. To date most progress has been made in the cytoskeleton field, and several biochemical links have now been established between GTPases and the assembly of filamentous actin. The main focus of this review will be Rho, Rac and Cdc42, the three best characterized mammalian Rho GTPases, though the genetic analysis of Rho GTPases in lower eukaryotes is making increasingly important contributions to this field.
Project description:Rho GTPases are critical signal transducers of multiple pathways. They have been proposed to be useful anti-neoplastic targets for over two decades, especially in Ras-driven cancers. Until recently, however, few in vivo studies had been carried out to test this premise. Several recent mouse model studies have verified that Rac1, RhoA, and some of their effector proteins such as PAK and ROCK, are likely anti-cancer targets for treating K-Ras-driven tumours. Other seemingly contradictory studies have suggested that at least in certain instances inhibition of individual Rho GTPases may paradoxically result in pro-neoplastic effects. Significantly, both RhoA GTPase gain- and loss-of-function mutations have been discovered in primary leukemia/lymphoma and gastric cancer by human cancer genome sequencing efforts, suggesting both pro- and anti-neoplastic roles. In this review we summarize and integrate these unexpected findings and discuss the mechanistic implications in the design and application of Rho GTPase targeting strategies in future cancer therapies.
Project description:Leucocytes in the bloodstream respond rapidly to inflammatory signals by crossing the blood vessel wall and entering the tissues. This process involves adhesion to, and subsequent transmigration across, the endothelium, mediated by a cascade of interactions between adhesion molecules and stimulation of intracellular signalling pathways in both leucocytes and endothelial cells. This leads to changes in endothelial cell morphology that assist leucocyte extravasation, including endothelial cell contraction, intercellular junction disruption, increased permeability, remodelling of the endothelial apical surface and alterations in vesicle trafficking. Rho GTPases play a central role in many of the endothelial responses to leucocyte interaction. In this review, we discuss recent findings on leucocyte-induced alterations to endothelial cells, and the roles of Rho GTPases in these responses.
Project description:While numerous studies support regulation of Ras GTPases by reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, the Rho subfamily has received considerably less attention. Over the last few years, increasing evidence is emerging that supports the redox sensitivity of Rho GTPases. Moreover, as Rho GTPases regulate the cellular redox state by controlling enzymes that generate and convert reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, redox feedback loops likely exist. Here, we provide an overview of cellular oxidants, Rho GTPases, and their inter-dependence.
Project description:Rho family GTPases, and the proteins that regulate them, have important roles in many cellular processes, including cell division, survival, migration and adhesion. Although most of our understanding of these proteins has come from studies using cell lines, more recent gene targeting studies in mice are providing insights into the in vivo function of these proteins. Here we review recent progress revealing crucial roles for these proteins in lymphocyte development, activation, differentiation and migration. The emerging picture shows that Rho family GTPases transduce signals from receptors for antigens, chemokines and cytokines, as well as adhesion molecules and pattern recognition receptors, and that they function as focal points for crosstalk between different signalling pathways.
Project description:The small guanosine triphosphate (GTP)-binding proteins of the Rho family are implicated in various cell functions, including establishment and maintenance of cell polarity. Activity of Rho guanosine triphosphatases (GTPases) is not only regulated by guanine nucleotide exchange factors and GTPase-activating proteins but also by guanine nucleotide dissociation inhibitors (GDIs). These proteins have the ability to extract Rho proteins from membranes and keep them in an inactive cytosolic complex. Here, we show that Rdi1, the sole Rho GDI of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, contributes to pseudohyphal growth and mitotic exit. Rdi1 interacts only with Cdc42, Rho1, and Rho4, and it regulates these Rho GTPases by distinct mechanisms. Binding between Rdi1 and Cdc42 as well as Rho1 is modulated by the Cdc42 effector and p21-activated kinase Cla4. After membrane extraction mediated by Rdi1, Rho4 is degraded by a novel mechanism, which includes the glycogen synthase kinase 3beta homologue Ygk3, vacuolar proteases, and the proteasome. Together, these results indicate that Rdi1 uses distinct modes of regulation for different Rho GTPases.
Project description:Formin proteins were recognized as effectors of Rho GTPases some 15 years ago. They contribute to different cellular actin cytoskeleton structures by their ability to polymerize straight actin filaments at the barbed end. While not all formins necessarily interact with Rho GTPases, a subgroup of mammalian formins, termed Diaphanous-related formins or DRFs, were shown to be activated by small GTPases of the Rho superfamily. DRFs are autoinhibited in the resting state by an N- to C-terminal interaction that renders the central actin polymerization domain inactive. Upon the interaction with a GTP-bound Rho, Rac, or Cdc42 GTPase, the C-terminal autoregulation domain is displaced from its N-terminal recognition site and the formin becomes active to polymerize actin filaments. In this review we discuss the current knowledge on the structure, activation, and function of formin-GTPase interactions for the mammalian formin families Dia, Daam, FMNL, and FHOD. We describe both direct and indirect interactions of formins with GTPases, which lead to formin activation and cytoskeletal rearrangements. The multifaceted function of formins as effector proteins of Rho GTPases thus reflects the diversity of the actin cytoskeleton in cells.
Project description:Rho family GTPases are critical regulators of many important cellular processes and the dysregulation of their activities is implicated in a variety of human diseases including oncogenesis and propagation of malignancy. The traditional methods, such as "pull-down" or two-hybrid procedures, are poorly suited to dynamically evaluate the activity of Rho GTPases, especially in living mammalian cells. To provide a novel alternative approach to analyzing Rho GTPase-associated signaling pathways in vivo, we developed a series of bioluminescent biosensors based on the genetically engineered firefly luciferase. These split-luciferase-based biosensors enable non-invasive visualization and quantification of the activity of Rho GTPases in living subjects. The strategy is to reasonably split the gene of firefly luciferase protein into two inactive fragments and then respectively fuse the two fragments to Rho GTPase and the GTPase-binding domain (GBD) of the specific effector. Upon Rho GTPase interacting with the binding domain in a GTP-dependent manner, these two luciferase fragments are brought into close proximity, leading to luciferase reconstitution and photon production in the presence of the substrate. Using these bimolecular luminescence complementation (BiLC) biosensors, we successfully visualized and quantified the activities of the three best characterized Rho GTPases by measuring the luminescence in living cells. We also experimentally investigated the sensitivity of these Rho GTPase biosensors to upstream regulatory proteins and extracellular ligands without lysing cells and doing labor-intensive works. By virtue of the unique functional characteristics of bioluminescence imaging, the BiLC-based biosensors provide an enormous potential for in vivo imaging of Rho GTPase signaling pathways and high-throughput screening of therapeutic drugs targeted to Rho GTPases and (or) upstream molecules in the near future.
Project description:Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) belong to a heterogeneous group of neoplasms arising from hormone secreting cells. These tumors are often associated with a dysfunction of their secretory activity. Neuroendocrine secretion occurs through calcium-regulated exocytosis, a process that is tightly controlled by Rho GTPases family members. In this review, we compiled the numerous mutations and modification of expression levels of Rho GTPases or their regulators (Rho guanine nucleotide-exchange factors and Rho GTPase-activating proteins) that have been identified in NETs. We discussed how they might regulate neuroendocrine secretion.