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Small GTPases. 2015 Oct 2;6(4):174-7. doi: 10.1080/21541248.2015.1025943. Epub 2015 Oct 9.

Atypical RhoV and RhoU GTPases control development of the neural crest.

Faure S1,2, Fort P1,3.

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a Universités Montpellier 2 et 1; CRBM; UMS BioCampus ; Montpellier , France.
b INSERM ; Montpellier , France.
c CNRS UMR 5237 ; Montpellier , France.


This review addresses the developmental roles of 2 GTPases of the Rho family, RhoV/Chp and RhoU/Wrch. These two GTPases form a distinct subfamily related to Rac and Cdc42 proteins and were detected in a screen for Rho members that are particularly expressed in the neural crest, an embryonic tissue peculiar to vertebrates. The neural crest represents a physiological model of normal epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), in which epithelial cells at the border of neural and non-neural ectoderm differentiate, lose their intercellular connections and migrate throughout the embryo. We showed that RhoV, transiently induced by the canonical Wnt pathway, is required for the full differentiation of neural crest cells, while RhoU, induced later by the non-canonical Wnt pathway, is necessary for the migration process. These two GTPases, which are highly conserved across vertebrates, are thus tightly functionally linked to Wnt signaling, whose implication in embryonic development and cancer progression is well established. In the light of the recent literature, we discuss how RhoV and RhoU may achieve their physiological functions.


RhoU; RhoV; Wnt signaling; atypical Rho GTPases; development; neural crest; xenopus

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