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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2000 Jul 29;355(1399):965-70.

Rho GTPases: molecular switches that control the organization and dynamics of the actin cytoskeleton.

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  • 1Medical Research Council Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology, University College London, UK.


The actin cytoskeleton plays a fundamental role in all eukaryotic cells it is a major determinant of cell morphology and polarity and the assembly and disassembly of filamentous actin structures provides a driving force for dynamic processes such as cell motility, phagocytosis, growth cone guidance and cytokinesis. The ability to reorganize actin filaments is a fundamental property of embryonic cells during development; the shape changes accompanying gastrulation and dorsal closure, for example, are dependent on the plasticity of the actin cytoskeleton, while the ability of cells or cell extensions, such as axons, to migrate within the developing embryo requires rapid and spatially organized changes to the actin cytoskeleton in response to the external environment. Work in mammalian cells over the last decade has demonstrated the central role played by the highly conserved Rho family of small GTPases in signal transduction pathways that link plasma membrane receptors to the organization of the actin cytoskeleton.

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