The Rho family of small GTPases (Rho GTPases) act as molecular switches that transduce extrinsic stimuli into cytoskeletal rearrangements. In vascular endothelial cells (ECs), Cdc42, Rac1, and RhoA control cell migration and cell–cell junctions downstream of angiogenic and inflammatory cytokines, thereby regulating vascular formation and permeability. While these Rho GTPases are broadly expressed in various types of cells, RhoJ is enriched in angiogenic ECs. Semaphorin 3E (Sema3E) releases RhoJ from the intracellular domain of PlexinD1, by which RhoJ induces actin depolymerization through competition with Cdc42 for their common effector proteins. RhoJ further mediates the Sema3E-induced association of PlexinD1 with vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) 2 and the activation of p38. Upon stimulation with VEGF-A, RhoJ facilitates the formation of a holoreceptor complex comprising VEGFR2, PlexinD1, and neuropilin-1, leading to the prevention of VEGFR2 degradation and the maintenance of intracellular signal transduction. These pleiotropic roles of RhoJ are required for directional EC migration in retinal angiogenesis. This review highlights the latest insights regarding Rho GTPases in the field of vascular biology, as it will be informative to consider their potential as targets for the treatment of aberrant angiogenesis and hyperpermeability in retinal vascular diseases.
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