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Arch Hellen Med, 31(2), March-April 2014, 150-164


The structure and function of Rho GTPases and their role in lung cancer

M.E. ╬žipolita, E. Skourti, A. Kritikos, S. Vlahopoulos, V. Zoumbourlis
Unit of Biomedical Applications, Institute of Biology, Medical Chemistry and Biotechnology, National Hellenic Research Foundation, Athens, Greece

The Rho kinases are a family of small signaling GTPases, belonging to the superfamily of Ras proteins. Their main function is in the regulation of the cytoskeleton in such a way that critical cellular processes, such as morphogenesis, growth of neurons, cell division, cell adhesion and cellular migration take place correctly. Their deregulation has been associated with several types of cancer. In a few types of cancers mutations of these proteins have been identified, but in most types the regulatory proteins (GEFs, GAPs and GDIs) are deregulated, resulting in either overexpression or reduced expression. In addition, Rho have been shown to act as both oncogenes and tumor suppressor molecules, which induce and inhibit tumor growth, respectively. In the majority of cancer tissues increased activation of Rho GTPases has been observed compared with the corresponding normal tissue. This paper emphasizes the expression of Rho GTPases in different types of lung cancer. Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer, accounting for approximately 12.5% of newly diagnosed cancers worldwide, and it is divided into two main subtypes, the small cell carcinoma (SCLC) and the non-small cell carcinoma (NSCLC). For this reason, and because a specific type, lung cancer subscale (LCS) presents a very rapid progression, this review highlights the correlation between the activity of Rho kinases (which includes their possible oncogenic or oncosuppressor roles) with both progression and metastasis of these tumors.

Key words: Lung cancer, Rho GTPases.

© Archives of Hellenic Medicine