Loss of RhoA promotes skin tumor formation and invasion by upregulation of RhoB

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Cellular movement is controlled by small GTPases, such as RhoA. Although migration is crucial for cancer cell invasion, the specific role of RhoA in tumor formation is unclear. Inducing skin tumors in mice with a keratinocyte-restricted loss of RhoA, we observed increased tumor frequency, growth and invasion. In vitro invasion assays revealed that in the absence of RhoA cell invasiveness is increased in a Rho-associated protein kinase (ROCK) activation and cell contraction-dependent manner. Surprisingly, loss of RhoA causes increased Rho signaling via overcompensation by RhoB because of reduced lysosomal degradation of RhoB in Gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor-associated protein (GABARAP)+ autophagosomes and endosomes. In the absence of RhoA, RhoB relocalized to the plasma membrane and functionally replaced RhoA with respect to invasion, clonogenic growth and survival. Our data demonstrate for the first time that RhoA is a tumor suppressor in 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene/12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol 13-acetate skin carcinogenesis and identify Rho signaling dependent on RhoA and RhoB as a potent driver of tumor progression.

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