Indexed on: 27 Feb '08Published on: 27 Feb '08Published in: Acta Pharmacologica Sinica
RhoBTB proteins constitute a subfamily of atypical members within the Rho family of small guanosine triphosphatases (GTPases). Their most salient feature is their domain architecture: a GTPase domain (in most cases, non-functional) is followed by a prolinerich region, a tandem of 2 broadcomplex, tramtrack, bric a brac (BTB) domains, and a conserved Cterminal region. In humans, the RhoBTB subfamily consists of 3 isoforms: RhoBTB1, RhoBTB2, and RhoBTB3. Orthologs are present in several other eukaryotes, such as Drosophila and Dictyostelium, but have been lost in plants and fungi. Interest in RhoBTB arose when RHOBTB2 was identified as the gene homozygously deleted in breast cancer samples and was proposed as a candidate tumor suppressor gene, a property that has been extended to RHOBTB1. The functions of RhoBTB proteins have not been defined yet, but may be related to the roles of BTB domains in the recruitment of cullin3, a component of a family of ubiquitin ligases. A model emerges in which RhoBTB proteins are required to maintain constant levels of putative substrates involved in cell cycle regulation or vesicle transport through targeting for degradation in the 26S proteasome. RhoBTB proteins are engrossing the list of Rho GTPases involved in tumorigenesis. Unlike typical Rho GTPases (usually overexpressed or hyperactive), RhoBTB proteins appear to play a part in the carcinogenic process through a mechanism that involves the decreased or abolished expression of the corresponding genes, or more rarely, mutations that result in impaired functioning of the protein, presumably leading to the accumulation of RhoBTB substrates and alterations of the cellular homeostasis.