Rho GTPase Signaling in Platelet Regulation and Implication for Antiplatelet Therapies

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Platelets play a vital role in regulating hemostasis and thrombosis. Rho GTPases are well known as molecular switches that control various cellular functions via a balanced GTP-binding/GTP-hydrolysis cycle and signaling cascade through downstream effectors. In platelets, Rho GTPases function as critical regulators by mediating signal transduction that drives platelet activation and aggregation. Mostly by gene targeting and pharmacological inhibition approaches, Rho GTPase family members RhoA, Rac1, and Cdc42 have been shown to be indispensable in regulating the actin cytoskeleton dynamics in platelets, affecting platelet shape change, spreading, secretion, and aggregation, leading to thrombus formation. Additionally, studies of Rho GTPase function using platelets as a non-transformed model due to their anucleated nature have revealed valuable information on cell signaling principles. This review provides an updated summary of recent advances in Rho GTPase signaling in platelet regulation. We also highlight pharmacological approaches that effectively inhibited platelet activation to explore their possible development into future antiplatelet therapies.