Roles of Rho-family GTPases in cell polarisation and directional migration

Masaki Fukata, Masato Nakagawa, Kozo Kaibuchi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

409 Citations (Scopus)


Polarised cell migration is a tightly regulated process that occurs in tissue development, chemotaxis and wound healing. Rho-family GTPases, including Cdc42, Rac1 and RhoA, play a central role in establishing cell polarisation, which requires asymmetric and ordered distribution of the signalling molecules and the cytoskeleton. Recent advances reveal that Rho GTPases, together with phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, contribute to asymmetric phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-trisphosphate distribution via a positive-feedback loop. Phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-trisphosphate thereby activates the signalling cascades to the cytoskeleton as a second messenger. Rho GTPases also capture and stabilise microtubules through their effectors (e.g. IQGAP1, mDia and Par6) near the cell cortex, leading to polarised cell morphology and directional cell migration. Thus, elucidation of the signal transduction cascades from receptors to Rho GTPases and, subsequently, from Rho GTPases to microtubules has begun.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)590-597
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Cell Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 10-2003
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cell Biology


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