Urothelial carcinoma remains a clinical challenge: non-muscle-invasive disease has a high rate of recurrence and risk of progression, and outcomes for patients with advanced disease are poor, owing to a lack of effective systemic therapies. The Rho GTPase family of enzymes was first identified >30 years ago and contains >20 members, which are divided into eight subfamilies: Cdc42, Rac, Rho, RhoUV, RhoBTB, RhoDF, RhoH, and Rnd. Rho GTPases are molecular on-off switches, which are increasingly being understood to have a critical role in a number of cellular processes, including cell migration, cell polarity, cell adhesion, cell cycle progression, and regulation of the cytoskeleton. This switch is an evolutionarily conserved system in which GTPases alternate between GDP-bound (inactive) and GTP-bound (active) forms. The activities of these Rho GTPases are many, context-dependent, and regulated by a number of proteins that are being progressively elucidated. Aberrations of the Rho GTPase signalling pathways have been implicated in various malignancies, including urothelial carcinoma, and understanding of the role of Rho GTPases in these diseases is increasing. This signalling pathway has the potential for therapeutic targeting in urothelial carcinoma. Research in this area is nascent, and much work is necessary before current laboratory-based research can be translated into the clinic.
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