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The Rho family GTPases are small G proteins that act as molecular switches shuttling between active and inactive forms. Rho GTPases are regulated by two classes of regulatory proteins, guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) and GTPase-activating proteins (GAPs). Rho GTPases transduce the upstream signals to downstream effectors, thus regulating diverse cellular processes, such as growth, migration, adhesion, and differentiation. In particular, Rho GTPases play essential roles in regulating neuronal morphology and function. Recent evidence suggests that dysfunction of Rho GTPase signaling contributes substantially to the pathogenesis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It has been found that 20 genes encoding Rho GTPase regulators and effectors are listed as ASD risk genes by Simons foundation autism research initiative (SFARI). This review summarizes the clinical evidence, protein structure, and protein expression pattern of these 20 genes. Moreover, ASD-related behavioral phenotypes in animal models of these genes are reviewed, and the therapeutic approaches that show successful treatment effects in these animal models are discussed.


Daji Guo, Xiaoman Yang, Lei Shi. Rho GTPase Regulators and Effectors in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Animal Models and Insights for Therapeutics. Cells. 2020 Mar 31;9(4)

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PMID: 32244264

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