Cytokinesis in animal cells is powered by the cytokinetic apparatus, a ring of filamentous actin and myosin-2 that underlies the plasma membrane and closes between the separating chromosomes. Formation of the cytokinetic apparatus is at least partially dependent on the small GTPase, Rho. Similar to other small GTPases, Rho cycles between the active (GTP-bound) and inactive (GDP-bound) states. Because of this switch-like behaviour, Rho and other members of the Rho GTPase family, such as Rac and Cdc42, have long been thought to work in a manner such that their activation and inactivation are not tightly coupled. That is, a given Rho-dependent event, such as cytokinesis, has been thought to be initiated by activation of Rho, and then, many minutes later, terminated by inactivation of Rho. Here we discuss evidence suggesting that in fact Rho undergoes rapid movement through the GTPase cycle throughout the entire process of cytokinesis, and that this cycling is necessary for proper cytokinetic apparatus function.

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