RAS small GTPases regulate important signalling pathways and are notorious drivers of cancer development and progression. While most research to date has focused on understanding and addressing the oncogenic potential of three RAS oncogenes: HRAS, KRAS, and NRAS; the full RAS subfamily is composed of 35 related GTPases with diverse cellular functions. Most remain deeply understudied despite strong evolutionary conservation. Here, we highlight a group of 17 poorly characterized RAS GTPases that are frequently down-regulated in cancer and evidence suggests may function not as oncogenes, but as tumour suppressors. These GTPases remain largely enigmatic in terms of their cellular function, regulation, and interaction with effector proteins. They cluster within two families we designate as ‘distal-RAS’ (D-RAS; comprised of DIRAS, RASD, and RASL10) and ‘CaaX-Less RAS’ (CL-RAS; comprised of RGK, NKIRAS, RERG, and RASL11/12 GTPases). Evidence of a tumour suppressive role for many of these GTPases supports the premise that RAS subfamily proteins may collectively regulate cellular proliferation.
The flower represents the Drosophila testis niche with the hub cells at the center. Each petal of the flower represents Germline stem cells (GSCs) with a large and a smaller purple circle representing centromere; green rays representing stronger centromeres preferentially attach to the niche. Red and green caterpillars represent sister chromatids in prometaphase with separable old and new H3 in GSCs. Further, large butterflies closer to the flower represent prometaphase GSCs with a red wing vs a green wing representing non-overlapping old and new H3. Small orange butterflies away from the flower represent prophase gonialblast cells with overlapping old and new H3 signals. The background is from coiled sperm from the fly testis. Cover art generated by Professor Tim Phelps.
Functional diversity in the RAS subfamily of small GTPases
Gabriela Bernal Astrain, Maya Nikolova, Matthew J. Smith; Functional diversity in the RAS subfamily of small GTPases. Biochem Soc Trans 29 April 2022; 50 (2): 921–933. doi: https://doi.org/10.1042/BST20211166
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