RhoGTPases are GDP/GTP molecular switches that control a wide variety of cellular processes, thereby contributing to many diseases, including cancer. As a consequence, there is great interest in the identification of small-molecule inhibitors of RhoGTPases. In the present paper, using the property of GTP-loaded RhoGTPases to bind to their effectors, we describe a miniaturized and robust assay to monitor Rac1 GTPase activation that is suitable for large-scale high-throughput screening. A pilot compound library screen revealed that the topoisomerase II poison MTX (mitoxantrone) is an inhibitor of Rac1, and also inhibits RhoA and Cdc42 in vitro. We show that MTX prevents GTP binding to RhoA/Rac1/Cdc42 in vitro. Furthermore, MTX strongly inhibits RhoGTPase-mediated F-actin (filamentous actin) reorganization and cell migration. Hence, we report a novel biochemical assay yielding the identification of RhoGTPase inhibitors and we present a proof-of-concept validation with the identification of MTX as a novel pan-RhoGTPase inhibitor.

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