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Next to changes in cytosolic [Ca2+], members of the Rho subfamily of small GTPases, in particular Rho and its effector Rho kinase, also known as ROK or ROCK, emerged as key regulators of smooth muscle function in health and disease. In this review, we will focus on the regulation of the contractile machinery by Rho/ROK signaling and its interaction with PKC and cyclic nucleotide signaling. We will briefly discuss the emerging evidence that remodeling of cortical actin is necessary for contraction.
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